I’ve noticed that many people, while commiserating about “the torture of the blank page” and “the mockery of the blinking cursor”, actually seem to enjoy it. We romanticize it. We hear the message behind the words: “You’re not a real writer unless you’re depressed and angsty and get stuck when the muse doesn’t come”.
We picture ourselves, broody in black turtleneck sweaters, both hands around a tea or coffee mug, staring wistfully out the window. Then, suddenly, inspiration strikes! We turn to our perfectly quirky and beautiful antique typewriter (or a laptop, perched atop a salvaged wood table in a swanky little cafe) and type like our fingers are on fire. We smile, we laugh! The creative juices are flowing, we are one with nature, we are the next Hemingway, we will win all the prizes!
Cut to: we mope, we throw balled up pages of abandoned prose over our shoulders and they bounce of a mountain of their sad little brothers, the trash can long buried under a pile of your failures. You’re the worst writer in the entire world, you were a fool before sitting in that cafe like you knew what you were doing, you’re a fraud and someone will soon swing by to revoke your writer license.
And back and forth it goes. Because that’s how writers do. Right?
Look I know many of you know this, but it never hurts to hear it again and I really want to reach those of you who haven’t broken free from this mold. There are as many ways to write as there are writers, and if someone scoffs and doesn’t believe in you because you write by hand on a couch, or because you dare to be happy and confident at every stage, tell them to eat a duck fart because you’ve got stuff to do.
You do not have to be miserable to be a “real” artist. You do not have to fling yourself wildly back and forth between euphoria and despair to be a “real” writer. You do not have to wail and cringe up your face and sing about serious things and broken dreams to be a “real” musician.
Do you. If you don’t like something about your process, you can change it. If you’ve settled on a way to work that you love, ignore the people who want you to feel like it’s not the “right” way.
If you have a heart for helping people through your work, then keep working. The world needs what you have inside you to say.