If You Want to be a Writer, Just Write

I spend way too much time overthinking. About pretty much everything. I have for all of forever. While seemingly impulsive, I have most likely thought through every possible outcome ahead of time; my “Aries spontaneity” may be at least 50% farce. Overthinking is simply my cross to bear in this world. It makes me a great lawyer (if I can toot my own horn for a moment), but a neurotic, indecisive human being.

I hold on to this blog because I fancy myself a “writer” (and because I have a hard time letting go of sentiment). But I’m not writing. I’m thinking, and overthinking, and planning, and pondering, and editing, and scribbling ideas, and I’m losing myself in a sea of 200 two-line drafts (no … really. 200 of them), and I’m feverishly wondering what the hell I’m even doing anymore. but writing? The last thing I’m doing is writing; at least, not anything more than what amounts to a Page Six blurb, a word salad brain dump.

I have ideas. I have hopes. I don’t have words.

Therein lies the problem.

I’m a writer who doesn’t write.

I’m a poser writer.

What happened?

If we’re being truthful (and I try to be), I’m horrible at mediocrity. Trust me when I tell you that I don’t mean that as a pat on the back, as though everything I touch turns platinum. No, I mean that if I can’t be immediately great at something, it becomes harder to hold interest. Unfortunately, I went through a period of time in which I was good at certain things from the very beginning, and that set me up for a series of letdowns later in life. What do you mean, everything won’t come easily to me? Petulant, perhaps, reality nonetheless. Even now, at exactly thirty-five-and-a-half years old, I can’t tell if I’ve declared myself horrible at mediocrity because of my pride tells me I should be better (the healthy alternative), or if I’m “horrible at mediocrity” because my fear of being average keeps me from moving forward.

I suspect the latter, and that one hurts.

To be bad at something in the beginning is fairly commonplace; dare I say, it’s typical. When you begin something new, you learn, you edit, you crash, you burn, you rise from the ashes, you get the embattled hero story. In the beginning, then, failure is the norm, the expectation. When you’ve been doing it for years and years, though, the rules of the game seemingly shift, and you’re supposed to know stuff, even if you’ve forgotten it, and you aren’t “allowed” to make the same mistakes rookies make. Act like you been there before, Sowers!, I tell myself in my head, staring at a blinking cursor following by a sea of blank white, an idea that I just know is “the one” swimming in my thoughts, fingers paralyzed by … whatever. Pride, fear, sloth, all of the above?

And maybe the pride/fear/sloth/whatever spawns from a small bit of self-awareness: if I’m not writing, what’s the point keeping up the facade? I’m not a fashion blogger. I’m not a mommy blogger. I’m not personal finance, I’m not food, I’m not travel. I’m not niched at all. I’m just me, and that’s a little bit of everything. I’ve always written about whatever I wanted. Fifteen years ago, I was writing about my dreams of Sasquatch riding a four-wheeler, and recounting how I once got my tongue stuck in a bottle. Writing was easier before I started overthinking what I should be writing about

Who remembers when we just wrote? Before we were told we had to narrow ourselves down to a niche by some “grow your following” Pinterest post made by a person who had less followers that you had anyway? I get the concept of that, don’t get me wrong, but it’s hard to subscribe to the idea that complex, multi-faceted people should only talk about one thing. Hell, even forums that make a living on criticizing bloggers slice and dice them into little categories. I fell into that trap — trying too hard to make my Play-Doh blob of a blog fit into a square blog peg.

So many things have been happening in my life that I’d love to get down into words — the largest of which is currently having a house party in my midsection. It’s hard to write about pregnancy without seeming smug or dopey, especially as a first-timer who knows nothing but what I’ve been told and what I’ve read. I’d love to talk about the personal finance decisions Dale and I have been making together, because I think it’s useful and it makes me hopeful and proud. I could talk about step-parenting a high schooler and a first-grader, and about how Gordon Ramsay apparently followed me on Instagram (waitwhat), and my plans for the dream house we’re eventually building (which just lives in my head currently). Lord knows I have things to say about impeachment, Botham Jean, and veganism. Stop worrying about posting times and SEO and making Pinterest-worthy graphics. None of that means anything if you aren’t writing. I want to be who I wanted to be before I was told who I was supposed to be (untangle that one).

Takeaway: We aren’t one-trick ponies. We shouldn’t have to write as though we are.

I also remind myself that you don’t always write for your benefit alone. I can remember struggling through different periods of life, and finding little rays of sunshine in other peoples’ words. No savior complex here, but after benefitting from others’ openness, I feel like I should pay some forward. I’ve had some basic white girl struggles, I’ll admit that now; I’ve also had some humdingers. I’ve had some great victories afterward. I started all of this by simply sharing experiences; there’s no reason why I shouldn’t now.

All of this is a pitiful practice in creative narcissism, except to say this: no one’s expectations of you are as lofty or as rigid as the ones you impose on yourself. Get out of your head and do what you want to do. Whether it’s putting words on paper, or one of the other zillion things we’re scared of doing — just do it. Risk the mediocrity to gain the fulfillment.

Stop bitching. Stop waxing poetic (as I’ve done for 1000+ words here).

Do it.

Epictetus said, “If you want to be a write, just write.”

Easy, right?

Now I just need someone to remind me of this when my own neuroses have me scrolling through two-line drafts, then leaving and getting cheese fries.

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