It’s a strange thing, being a writer. On the one hand, you just are. I’m always writing something. It’s who I am. I can’t not write. It’s as simple as breathing.
But you know how sometimes even breathing isn’t simple? You get a cold, and a blocked nose. Or the pollution is so high that your nose gets full of gunk and you can’t breathe properly. Well, sometimes that happens with writing too. You know it’s simple. You know it’s who you are. But sometimes, it just feels complicated.
I’ve been feeling that lately. But more specifically, towards “professional” writing. I can still write. I can still fill pages of my journal, or write beautiful letters and what-not. I can still write stuff that doesn’t need to be finished or stuff that doesn’t need to be judged. But what about all the things that have to be finished, and have to be judged? What about stories that must meet certain criteria, or pass through individual judgement? What about a novel that needs to meet my vision of what it should be? On that side, there have been stumbling blocks.
And that led me to the conclusion that I need to do more things that make me feel like a writer.
Life gets in the way. There are jobs to be done for money. There are hobbies and interests. Crazy challenges that take over my life (I’m walking London to Brighton non-stop, 100km/62.5 miles in May). Personal relationships. And after all that if there is actually any time left, my energy level or mental reserves are too low for me to be as productive as I would like with my writing.
A part of me resists this. A part of me thinks of all the writers who had full lives, woke up at crazy hour every morning and wrote before going to work. A part of me wants to be able to do that no matter what. Another, more realistic part of me is becoming aware that it is not sustainable. I’ve ups and downs with writing, as with most things in life. Sometimes words just flow. Sometimes it’s bloody hard work. Sometimes it fills you with elation. Sometimes it depresses you. That is the inevitable nature of the creative endeavour. But it is also the inevitable nature of pursuing dreams.
However, there are ways to feel like a writer. I’ve joined a local critique group, a writer’s group, and may even do more of those depending on suitability and availability. That gives me people and accountability so that writing comes with a deadline rather than just something hovering in the background. I like deadlines. I like having something specific to aim for. It also feels more professional somehow. And more “doing” rather than “wishing.”
So today, I had to remind myself again that it’s okay. Sometimes you feel down in the dumps, and question everything. It’s okay. Feel it in the moment. Then get back up, dust off your pants, and start again. Because that’s all it is. One word after another. Sometimes it’s crappy words. Sometimes it’s torturous words. But they come. Because they are in me. Patiently waiting. When I stop obsessing and worrying about being a writer, underneath it, I already am. When I remember why I wanted to do this – for the pleasure of creating my own stories – it suddenly becomes such an achievable thing. It is there, waiting to be unearthed, to be moulded in my voice. Because I am a writer.