When Not Writing Is More Painful Than Writing

Photo provided by Justin DeMarco
Photo provided by Justin DeMarco

I find myself unable to focus for long periods of time. Instead of writing, I perseverate. My thoughts moving in all directions – front-to-back, right-to-left, back-to-front, left-to-right. I say, “If I only had more time.” Then when I have the time I tell myself, “I’ll do it later.”

As the sun starts to set and another day has come and gone, I think about missed opportunities. The marvelous works I’d create if only I sat down in a chair for more than ten minutes without checking my cell phone for messages or to see the latest Instagram posts. The closer each day heads towards midnight the more pressure I place on myself. I think of past accomplishments and wonder about future ones. Then I belittle my thoughts, my ideas, myself. Who am I? What do I have to offer? Why would people want to read anything I write? I probably don’t even write well and no cares about what I have to say. Those are the thoughts that consume me – keeping me up at night, while letting me down.
Then the vicious cycle starts all over. I snooze through the mornings, can’t believe the afternoon has arrived, and then tell myself I’ll start fresh the next day. Tomorrow comes and no improvements have been made. I’m right back where I was the day before.

That was the old me.

The new me, constantly working to avoid a relapse, knows that not writing causes more pain than actually writing. When I’m in my chair, looking at my computer, I’m in control. I have the ability to explore, create, and eventually share my thoughts and feelings with others. I may love, hate, get frustrated, or become overjoyed with the words that flow onto the page, but at least I’m doing what I want to be doing – writing. And there’s something to be said for showing up. It means you’re there, even if you know you’re not fully where you want to be yet. You’re a work in progress, which is better than a work that’s still not underway.

This revelation wasn’t something I discovered on my own, as much as I’d like to take the credit. I met a friend of a friend who recommended I read The Artist’s Way. It’s a book by Julia Cameron that I’m thankful I found out about. It has helped guide me back to living a creative life. A life in which I still hold myself accountable, but allow forgiveness. Writing and creating is hard enough without placing extremely high expectations on your work. Would it be nice to pen the next great novel or have all of your posts go viral? You bet. It’s just a lot to ask, especially when you’re starting out.

I’ve also learned there’s a lot more to life than numbers and what other people may or may not think. The real journey is about finding inner peace along the way. Before Cameron’s teachings, I strangled my ideas until they were no longer. I prevented myself from writing and wallowed in self-pity. I’d talk about all of my creative difficulties with other struggling twentysomethings as opposed to stepping outside of my comfort zone, rechanneling my energy, and actually doing the work.

From now on, I’ve decided to write. To put words on the page in a certain order and continue until I’ve waded through the chaos and uncertainty. The other option is to not allow myself to create and I know where that road leads. I’ve already been there and don’t want to go back. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog