This isn’t a new thing I’ve written about.
One glance at a few entries in my Morning Pages journal from the last few weels will reveal I tell myself this quite often. However, tracing back to Buddhist and Hindu roots, a Mantra can prove to be a powerful thing. Maybe this is my sub-conscious, reaching out, trying to say again and again and again what I know in my soul is true.
This is where I air my dirty word laundry for everyone to see:
I’m a writer and I don’t trust my words.
I also think I’m a ground-breaking mind of the modern century, too. But don’t reach for that red-X box too fast. There’s some hopeful good to come from this.
There’s a moment, I feel, when a creative-type person, either a musician, visual artist, writer, sculptor, or any other myriad of professions, begins to work. They put pencil to page, fingers to keys, lips to marble, or chisel to horns…wait….and they get to it. To be a creative person, you have to begin.
Yet, there’s a hesitation.
I know I’m not the only one.
You begin typing, or you begin sketching, or you begin playing, when suddenly everything you do is “wrong.” Words aren’t hitting the page right, or the lines aren’t shaping up to create the image like you had planned it, or the sound doesn’t reverberate off the wall like you thought. You’ve doubted yourself because what you’ve made doesn’t match what you projected, and because of that you shut the whole operation down.
I’ve lost days, DAYS, of writing because the first sentence I wrote wasn’t what I imagined.
Now, I want to make a distinction here (partially for the benefit of moving this blog along but also for my benefit because I’ve thought of this just right now). You should be aware of the difference between a “bad” sentence (or brush stroke or key played) and a bad sentence (or brush stroke or key played. How about, from here on out, I’ll only speak in terms of writing and you can interpret that in any art or creative form as you’d like?)
See, we know what a bad sentence looks like. There’s no capital letter, there’s no subject, there’s no predicate, the words are spelled wrong. You wrote something like, “Ashley went out on top of the tower and looked out over the, like, really big, big, big river that was so big it was crazy how big it was.” I’ve written sentences like that and I’ve acknowledged they were awful. Mostly, they were during NaNoWriMo and I just needed the word count ticked up. As long as you have a basic understanding of grammar rules and spelling conventions you can forgive yourself for belching out one of these stinkers on the keyboard.
No, no I’m not talking about those bad sentences.
I’m talking about the “bad” sentences. You know the ones, where you aren’t sure if the point is getting across clearly, or if it’s too on the nose when you were trying to be more subtle, or if there was too many instances of the word “you” in there. Yeah. Those ones.
Those are the sentences that shut down whole days of creativity and prevent wonderful pieces of art from being born. And you know what?
I’m sick of it.
I’m sick of letting my doubt in my own words plague and slow down my writing process. I want to be a novelist, man. I want to write stories and books for a living! I want that to be my only job at some point. If I keep saying to myself, “This first sentence isn’t how so-and-so would have written it,” then I’d never write anything. Everything that makes us want to create presently is what makes what we make worthwhile. We are not our favorite writers.
We are our own.
And we must trust in ourselves.
I’m a college-educated man who was an elementary school teacher for 6 years, who then transitioned into starting my own tutoring business where I now work with students ranging from 2nd grade up to high school. My specialty in the classroom was English Language Arts and I helped my kids become absorbed in the words and worlds of C.S. Lewis, Rick Riordan, and Beverly Cleary.
Writing is not beyond me and will never be.
Thanks for reading,
Check out mine and Arnie Bermudez’s webcomic, The Juan!