I’m not a great writer.
I’m not going to bore you with false humility. I am a good writer. I know a lot of words- some of them, even, are adverbs. Back there? Sentence swag. I stunted with the syntax.
Again, though, I’m not great.
That I’m not great is something that used to nag at me. I grew up in the Poke’mon Generation: we were supposed to be the best, the best that ever was. And yet I wasn’t. I am not the best writer from my classes. I am not the best writer in my circle of friends. I am, quite pointedly, not even the best writer in my immediate family. And it’s that acceptance which has given me my strength. It is freeing, immensely freeing, to write with the simple confidence that it’s just something I’d like to do.
Over time, I’ve learned that the most important thing — more important then talent — is simply to do things. It’s ironic, but you are your own worst enemy in a world of personal affirmation. We live in a world that allows us unfettered access to share our thoughts, ourselves, and our art, and yet so many people self-censor, insecure as though their effort would somehow be The Only Bad Thing On The Internet.
It isn’t. It might even be good.
I’m writing this, though, for you. Because too many writers have a shame, self imposed, that doesn’t even let them call themselves writers, as though, they need some validation, some support, some members-only cardigan to come from above and wrap them in an embrace both cozy and pretentious. Worse, until they get this, they won’t write or submit. And that means they just won’t do it.
What breaks my heart is that they care. They love their art so much — comedy, music, prose, performance — that they are so afraid of sullying that field that they won’t risk their own entry. They’re so afraid that their writing is so uniquely bad that sharing it, that pursuing it with a clear and open hear would somehow damage the entire history of literature. Reading their favorite books, listening to their favorite albums, they somehow get into a double-bind. They think that being a fan of better artists rules them out from attempting their own works.
Don’t. I’d rather see your self promoting tweets, your repeated Facebook invitations, and even — gasp — personalized follow-ups to those Facebook invites — than know, deep down, that someone thought they weren’t good enough, that somehow they needed validation or permission to do what they love and share it.
Good enough can be enough. And it’s good. Don’t fight the shadows of your hopes; hope, instead, to approach them.
I’m going to ask something from you, internet stranger. If you have unshared, unfinished documents that linger behind five Twitter tabs, go ahead and share them. Stop comparing yourself to your idols, polished and complete. Just write. Just sing. I’m writing simply because it simply is that simple. This article isn’t even that good, but I didn’t let that won’t stop me, and it shouldn’t stop you. Doing anything is better than nothing, because if you can forgive your mistakes you can extract your victories.
There will always be a gap between what you are able to produce and what you wish you could. That’s human and inevitable, but the divinity is in the moment of striving where you become, if only for a moment, an artist.
Let’s go. If you’re a writer, you can write here. Really. It’s that easy. You’re on Thought Catalog right now. You’ve had a thought, I assume: catalog it. Submit. Because even if you’re rejected, you have a piece and a beginning. From nothing, something was made. Rejection is painful, arbitrary, and inevitable in whatever life you live. Best to become immune now. If you’re a musician…I don’t know, make some music? I’m not much of a music person, and while that makes my advice vaguer, I hope you take that as a glass half-full. I know so little about music, as do so many others, that by default you have an enormous audience of friendly, confused people who are very easily impressed. Go ahead and impress us.
At the very least, the last moral I want to impart to any artist, any aspirant, in any field, is that you are your harshest critic. You are feeling embarrassment and nerves from within, and while that’s fine, understandable, and even a classic problem, it isn’t serious. It really isn’t.
Go ahead. Make and share. You might as well, right?
I look forward to your response.