I’ll be honest, sometimes I avoid the computer. I won’t sit down in front of it for days because I know if I do, I’ll write. I pretend I don’t want to write, that I have nothing to write. I’m quite good at convincing myself there are other things that must be done, other good things I might add. But when I sit down in front of the keys, they type for themselves. One or two ideas become a paragraph or two. Before I know it, I’ve written more than I should post. Every good writer must edit.
It’s easy to avoid the computer. I’ve got a lot going on. Generally speaking, I could come up with a truck load of excuses every week day for why I’m not writing. You name it: bills, sleep, homeschooling, washing diapers, exercise, cooking, grocery shopping, etc.
But the real reason I avoid the computer is not solely because of mundane excuses. It’s because I’m afraid. I’ve talked myself into the corner where I’m sitting like a frightened toddler, my insecurity blanket in hand, paralyzed and mumbling all the reasons why I have nothing to add to the writing world. I’m an awful critic – negative, cut-throat, and snobby.
I listen to my own criticisms and believe them all.
Often I ask, “Why me?” How is it possible there anything I could add to the world that someone else hasn’t already written, said, proclaimed, or preached to a listening ear. The truth is, there probably isn’t anything brand new for me to add to the spoken or written language. But that isn’t the point.
The point is I believe my value as a writer is determined by the fulfillment of all my hopes and aspirations (coming true all at once, I might add) and what others think of my words. Instead of writing for the right reasons, my writing or lack of writing is often characterized by my doubts and fears. I make writing into this grandiose whirlwind dream instead of what it is: processing life.
When I trick myself into avoiding the computer because I’m afraid of being vulnerable, of negative critique, of expressing what I think and learn, I’m stopping myself from processing my life. I’m stuffing all the hopes, angers, pains back inside, hoping for it to jumble together on its own and make sense. When I make writing all about everyone else, I can’t write. I can’t try and base my posts on what I think others should hear or will enjoy reading. When I write for myself, to process, to think, to voice what I’ve learned and experienced, that’s when it makes sense. That type of writing, I always hope, can help others who perhaps are in the same moment, the same situation. We are more alike than I allow myself to think.
It’s easy, safe, and lonely to think you’re alone in life. When what you experience alienates you from other people, you can bet it’s your own fears and doubts haunting you and keeping you from others. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been letting my anxieties set the mood for how I feel about writing. The more I don’t write, the more I want to keep silent. The more I don’t process, the more I want to stuff everything into a compartment and seal it tightly. It’s a dangerous process of cyclically building walls around my heart.
So for now, I’m putting these words out, excited and hopeful that I’m going to allow myself to write again, to process again, to think and feel and hope and dream and love every moment, whether it’s hard or easy, because I’m learning and growing in life.
Many thanks to Tyler for forcing me to sit down and write.
Image taken from User:Lionel Allorge/Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse. Photo edits by Melissa LaCross.