I’ve been reflecting on the presence of writing in my life, and as I slowly edge my way back into writing daily, it is hard. Even though I feel like my writing process is much healthier and more productive than ages past, I find myself stunted by novice mistakes time and time again. To counteract this, I’ve hunted for writing tips wherever I can, and that’s why reading this interview of author and social activist Clint Smith frightened me the most:
I imagine that I will look back at the poems in this book 20 years from now and think differently about some of what I’ve written. It’s an inevitable part of being human, I think.
This quote stood out to me because changing my mind has proven to be a staple in my life throughout my writing years. I’ve grown from “colorblind” pocket-racist to advocate of interracial rights; my theological views have taken root instead of picking and choosing concepts from others’. And of course, as goes hand-in-hand with school and post-grad life, my friend group rotates endlessly.
Looking back at my old writing–mainly poetry–I feel embarrassed to have posted something so rudimentary and unpolished, no matter how proud I was of it at the time. It sickens me to recall that noxious pride and superiority complex. I have been utterly humbled over and over writing-wise, and it has led me to stop writing at times for the sheer fear of posting something I’d regret down the line.
Eve Ewing, writer, scholar, and close friend of Clint Smith, wrote a Twitter thread on the concept of writer’s block–and how she does not believe it exists. Instead, she claims, there is not writing…and there is plain laziness. “Just sit down & write a garbage sauce draft like the rest of us,” she challenges, and though this advice is hard to hear, it is even harder to apply. “When you feel stuck, you have to take a walk, try writing something else, journal, write what’s in your head, or try again tomorrow,” she continues. This is sound advice, but as many writers know, it’s a tough sentence to making content reliably.
I have heard time and time again how inspiration is not something that comes and goes, but something hard work earns. But complacency tempts me at times, especially when thinking about how my views could change in a matter of years.
And yet, no matter how tortuous writing can be…I must continue.
Thomas Mann once said, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people,” and I whole-heartedly agree. There are times when pride stumps me, laziness consumes me, and busyness distracts me. But when I sit down and force myself to write and publish my work, there is no greater feeling in the world.