“Breakthroughs come from putting an inordinate amount of pressure on yourself, and seeing what you can take, and hoping that you grow some new muscles. It’s not really that mystical.” — Ta-Nehisi Coates
There is no shame in talking about the painfulness of writing. There is no shame in being honest about the process.
I don’t often feel those “lightbulb moments” of inspiration. When I am honest with myself, I know that if I do not create deadlines for myself, I will not write. After I got my MFA, I didn’t write regularly for a few years. People knew me as a writer and a poet, but when they would ask if I was writing, I would feel ashamed and answer, not really.
I want to take the shame out of this whole process, and I want us all to be more honest about the pain of writing. Writing is like exercise. I don’t really ever feel like doing it, but then when I actually begin, it’s amazing. Perhaps you’re the kind of person who does get those “lightbulb moments.” If so, that’s awesome. If that process works for you, go for it.
But if you’re like me, writing isn’t always sparked by a wave of inspiration. It’s inspired by putting pressure on yourself, challenging yourself, and holding yourself accountable.
Earlier this week, my friend sent me this short video interview with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. I have been watching it on loop ever since. I love Coates’s honesty about how painful writing can be. Coates calls writing a physical act, and says perseverance is the most important quality a writer can possess.
I had Coates’s words in mind when I sat down to work on my book yesterday and today. I didn’t feel like writing.
I felt like checking Facebook.
I felt like binge watching episodes of Gilmore Girls.
But then I thought about why I am writing this book.
I try to keep my intentions and end goals in mind when I sit down to write each week.
Writing a book is hard work. It’s a long distance run that may never end. I am proud of myself for hitting my goal each week, even when I don’t feel like writing at all. And I am proud of myself for being honest about that.
There’s no shame here.
Current Word Count: 7108
Word Count Goal for Sunday, June 28th: 2000 words
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