There’s this conception, among authors at the beginning of their careers, that there’s some secret key or esoteric bit of advice that will unlock the True Potential of Writing™.
That there’s something out there that seasoned writers know that neophyte authors don’t.
And there are lots of things that you learn with experience, as a writer. How to cut through your own writer’s block. How to get some words on a page, even on a lackluster day.
How to revise. How to take criticism.
How to use a semicolon. (It’s really not that hard; I promise.)
But this belief that there is someone or something out there that can make writing somehow painless? It harms us. It costs us money.
It makes it easier to believe that we need someone else to tell us how to do our best work.
Sure, there are best practices, and you can learn a lot about structure and storytelling, SEO and blog formats. And some of these things are useful.
But none of them circumvent the discomfort of doing the work itself.
It’s uncomfortable to show up. It’s uncomfortable to notice your own patterns, your own vices, your own predispositions.
We are none of us immune from the inefficiencies of writing, even those of us who have been doing it a while. Some days are good, and some days are a struggle.
But the real concern here? On some level, we WANT there to be a secret key. We want this to be true, because if it is true, then we don’t have to do the uncomfortable work of really looking at ourselves.
We don’t have to ask ourselves why we’re so busy we can’t allow ourselves 45 minutes to write.
We don’t have to ask ourselves why our pulse whizzes at the thought of self-promotion, or why our mouth goes dry with fear when we think about talking about our creative dreams.
We don’t need to acknowledge how desperately we seek validation.
If the secret key exists, the answer to our desire is knowledge, instead of self-awareness—and gaining knowledge is always more comfortable than doing the heavy lifting of personal growth.
If we can just discover that one thing, or learn that one technique, we don’t have to ask ourselves why we’re so mean to ourselves. We don’t have to change our behavior, to start saying no to obligations that don’t serve us.
We don’t need to say out loud, to people who might disagree or judge us: my writing is a priority and I am choosing to make time for it.
We don’t ever have to throw the pasta at the wall to see if it sticks.
We avoid the profound discomfort of standing there, surrounded by our people, staring at the wall.
There is no way to avoid this discomfort, if you want to be a writer.
You can put it off, you can table it. You can delay it. But eventually, you will have to throw the spaghetti and you will have to look at yourself.
You can either do it now, or later. And either one is fine.
But in the meantime, give the search a break. This is some corny-ass shit, but the True Potential of Writing is totally inside of you already.
You just have to be brave enough to look.