Gagh. I’ve been trying to figure out what to write this week. There are many voices in my head clamouring for attention, telling me to write about this or that. I can’t see my way clear. It’s only when I go and sit on the toilet (inspirational, right?) that I realise what my problem is.
I’ve been listening to way too much advice.
I subscribe to several writing and creativity posts, not to mention blogs by other authors, and many of these make claim after claim of what I have to do to be a successful writer. It’s helpful – up to a point. At some stage, I experience advice-saturation, shortly followed by advice-exhaustion.
Perhaps you have experienced this and you know what I’m talking about. You’ve had a problem or decision to make and you go and ask a host of your friends for their advice. Everyone has a different opinion of what you should do. Ultimately, the advice all blurs together and creates a sort of white noise in your mind.
That’s what I’ve got today. White noise. It all amounts to one thing for me: pressure. I feel pressured to write a certain way, to write about certain topics, to blog and build a platform following certain rules. Enough already.
I’ve already got my own internal writing pressures going. I don’t need any more added to my plate today. In fact, it might be helpful to write down the pressures I’m experiencing as a kind of exorcism/therapy. Maybe some of you can relate.
I always feel guilty about writing. I feel I should be doing something more practical (for practical, read useful) with my time. Perhaps I should be washing the dishes or plucking my eyebrows. Perhaps I should be out there working a real job and bringing in extra income. There’s always a reason to not write and a reason to feel guilty for indulging in writing.
There’s pressure, both from within and without, to make my writing “valuable”. Whatever that means. Apparently my writing is supposed to be marketable, targeting some widespread or niche demographic, in order to rake in the cash. Apparently, as a writer, I’m supposed to be raking in cash. I’m not seeing it. And that can lead to questions about the worthiness of what I’m writing. If no-one ever reads this, is it still worth the effort?
As much as I enjoy spending my writing time maintaining a website, screening my social media pages and checking emails, there comes a time when one must actually write in order to be a writer. I know this to be true. Yet there are some days when my mind seems to drift off to another world, with the sounds of waves in my ears and tiny seahorses dancing on my fingertips. Some days it’s easier to dream than to actually pursue your dream.
Writers are constantly reminded of the importance of getting their written word “out there”. Writers have to be competitive, extroverted and entrepreneurial. They have to make a name for themselves. Which sucks if you are introverted and don’t give a fig about popularity.
This is the loveliest pressure of all: the prompting of the Holy Spirit to write about an idea and bring it to life. Sweet and irrestistible, this kind of pressure brings joy and relief as the words flow onto the page. It calls to me.
What pressures are you facing? What dreams are you not pursuing? As for me, I’m off to write my book.