You know what I love about doing a certain discipline? That’s what it teaches me about everything else in life. Because how you do something is everything.
Writing is no different. I learned so much more about myself through crafting. First, it taught me how much of a procrastinator I am.
Also, it also highlights how much I can still dream no chasing that dream out of fear, or laziness, or who knows what else. In a way, writing has helped me solve some problems and come to terms with others.
And so I came to terms with some… not so interesting facts about writing, thanks to writing.
1. I will never achieve greatness
So I lived next door to this neighbor for ten years, right? And he also loved to sing. From the NSYNC era to Ed Sheeran, I listened to him write a verse every time I showered or did the dishes.
Over the course of a decade, I witnessed his growing passion for music. According to his mother, he started out as a bus driver and was supposed to be a serious musician. But here’s the thing. He is still not good today.
Yes, ten years of singing and his voice is still like nails on a chalkboard to me. But don’t just take my word for it. Various friends who came to see me also asked me why the dude shouted more than he sang.
Why do I remember this? Because it could have been me in writing.
Like my neighbor, I’ve devoted ten years to the craft, and since it’s such a subjective pursuit, I don’t know if I’m getting any better. All I have is my belief that I am.
I accepted that there might be a limit to how much I could improve. You know how you’ll never catch up to a gymnast, or a figure skater, or a musician who learned their discipline as a child? That’s how I feel. These are my levels, and I probably won’t reach the highest echelons of mastery in this lifetime.
But that’s okay. It just gives me the freedom to write what I want because I won’t have to worry about being “the best”.
2. I can’t make others like me
I have never posted with bad intentions. The goal has always been to entertain or inspire. But a black cat to me will mean something different to you. And what I find motivational may be interpreted as offensive to others.
Take, for example, training. I’ve always seen physical activity as a necessary adjunct to writing because it addresses the same beginning resistance.
But there were times when I was accused of not being inclusive because I didn’t take into account people who couldn’t play sports. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before I’m accused of toxic productivity.
I can only go one way in writing. I can only convey one message. I can’t think of a million other issues related to a particular topic, and people on the opposite side of my views will inevitably feel alienated.
And I can’t do anything about it.
It’s the same as when I worked under an editor who hated my work, and every time I turned in an assignment, he would return my drafts cut and scratched with red ink.
There is a saying in hairdressing: “Even the best stylists have haters and the worst have fans.”
The sooner I admit that I can’t please everyone, the sooner I can please those who really resonate with my work.
However, the people pleaser in me is not happy about it.
3. I must seek my own approval
At least in my part of the world, writing will always be seen as more of a pastime than a worthwhile career. It is not stable enough and not profitable enough to be considered a respectable career.
No one cares that I wrote 1000 words every day. It’s like drawing something new every day that will only impress other artists but do nothing for the common man.
That’s why I’m the only person I have to earn is my own approval. i care that I wrote 1000 words and i I know how hard it is to maintain this pace every day without rest.
I believe we all have an inner judge who reviews our daily efforts and determines if we have done enough to deserve their blessing. And this judge’s decisions come in the form of anxiety that we haven’t done enough, or a smile after a day well spent.
I accepted that the only person I needed to impress was the judge and no one else. Which makes things a lot more difficult because the judge is actually harder to convince than the average bystander.
But you gotta do what you gotta do, right?
4. I will hate 90% of my job
I know you know how that feels too. I’m never really satisfied with anything I post. There is always something I can improve. Make the sentence better. Make the message pop. Don’t be so stupid.
But facing these doubts is part and parcel of the writing life.
The thing is, it’s me. Everything I put on paper is the culmination of my practice over the centuries. I will hate my job even more if I start comparing it to others.
That’s why I’ve come to accept that every time I hit the Publish button on WordPress, send my manuscript to a publisher, or submit my assignment to an editor, I always feel uncomfortable.
But that’s okay, because for me, the life of a writer isn’t about convincing others to like me. It’s about finding your tribe and writing for them. And for that group of people, there’s very little I can do wrong, even if I feel all fifty shades of it when I share my work with them.
5. Writing will always be my extra hobby
Let me be honest with you. Aside from being busy full time, there is very little I can do with writing in terms of money.
I have six manuscripts and have only published one. I wasn’t paid very well for it either. I have a bunch of short stories that were just writing practice, and I don’t get that many freelance opportunities to support my life.
In other words, writing the stories I want will always be a side hustle. Sure, I could make a decent living working for a marketing agency or an online magazine, but if I have to get paid to write, I want it to be for fiction or essays like this.
And as a realist, I know it’s better to make a living with a more practical day job and let the chips fall where they may when it comes to my writing.
Forward and upward
Ironically, the more I accept that I’m not special, the better I work. Because the thought that I have my masterpiece inside me just leaves me free to the whims of the muse.
But knowing that the only advantage I’ll ever have is hard work means I may or may not end up writing the one novel I’ll be truly proud of.
And anyway, I’ve come to terms with it.
What realities have you embraced on your writing journey? Let me know in the comments! Also, if you haven’t joined the newsletter yet, you’re missing out on tons of exclusive content like this!