Conscience does make cowards of us all

I read an article from The Atlantic this morning about why writers are the worst procrastinators. It’s an interesting article, talking about impostor syndrome and how we unfairly compare our writing processes and drafts to works that have been polished and revised several times.

I was trying to remember when was the last time I wrote something I was excited and scared to share with people. In 2012 (!!), I participated in a HitRECord project where I contributed a short piece of dialogue. I thought it was fun and something I’d like to watch being performed. The response was pretty good too, with lots of people giving it “hearts” and whatnot. Since then, I’ve been too scared to try again, in case it was just a fluke. Argh, just writing that sounds ridiculous!

When I compare my writing practices with my painting, it’s like I have a completely different attitude to it. I suppose I’ve already decided I’m not a great painter and so my job now is to just get as good as I can be, and exploring all the materials. I can’t wait to paint every day, can’t wait to fail because my relationship with art is about experimentation, failing, adjusting and more experimentation. 

With writing, I don’t think I was ever encouraged to experiment, only to write good pieces. As I got older, it became less about ideas and creating worlds, emotions and connections and I was driven crazy with writing “well”, articulating an argument, showing how well I understood a text or how smart (or dumb, depending in the piece) I was.

I was good, or at least, I think I was good. I was pretty confident about my writing up until starting uni. I mean, I kept writing, and had some reviews published after uni, but when I think about it, being published among all these established writers and reviewers made me questions if my opinions were valid, and if I was even in a position to express these opinions. I felt like an impostor among established writers and slowly, I stopped trying.

Even with my blogging, it’s not done consistently enough. I have no deadline, no one to be accountable to and so procrastination becomes inaction. Hamlet much?

Does anyone else experience this? I suppose everyone goes through periods where they question what they are doing. I just feel my self doubts are pretty consuming. I suppose I should stop whining and do some writing.

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2 thoughts on “Conscience does make cowards of us all

  1. ah, dear. It afflicts us all. But trying to start writing regularly, even if it’s just writing about how you feel like you should be writing, will start waking up those writing muscles. You’ll be back into it before you know it. I feel the same way. Trying to push myself to start journalling again each day, ala Julia Cameron’s “morning pages” (writing three A4 pages full at the beginning of the day, before doing anything else).

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