I had a whole bunch of ideas for this post. All the long weekend, I entertained brilliant ideas for what this hundredth post would be. I spent an hour or two in a cafe in Chelsea and began drafting a post of my bittersweet relationship with New York City from childhood onward. On the bus ride back to Boston, I started writing about all the things that come to mind when I think of Novembers. For accountability's sake, I even discussed ideas for this post with a few friends. With one, I talked through an elaborate reflection on gratitude, just in time for Thanksgiving morning; with another, I talked through a reflection on graduate school and all the ways it is forcing me to grow up even as it transports me back to junior year.
But what's really calling to me to write right now is about writing. Call it a lack of inspiration, call it a dash of procrastination, I'm partly writing about writing to delay other sorts of writings. I'm mostly writing because I made myself swear that no matter what, I'd write something on this blog once a month without fail.
Resisting reluctance and readings on write-offs, I'm writing on.
A lot of people I know believe writing is easy for me. Classmates think I can sit down at a computer and crank out page after page of speech-worthy text for a presentation or a brilliant memo outlining a company's strategy (as I write, I'm putting off the latter and "delegating" the former to a team member). My friends and family think this process comes naturally--that after two-plus years of doing this, I've got blog-writing down to a science and given a cup of tea to catalyze the reaction, I'll emerge with a perfect written product in an hour.
What I want to confess here? Writing is not easy for me. At all.
No one is grading this post. No one is on this page for the purpose of judging the quality of my writing--so far as I know. For all I know, no one is reading this at all. And yet, it took me until the end of November to get this month's post up because I was scared of "doing a bad job" on it (whatever that means for a personal blog.) I acknowledge how ridiculous it sounds, but I have to say it's an exceptionally powerful fear. And it's one that regularly and relentlessly tries to hold me back.
I don't get "writer's block" so much as "stage fright" when it comes to writing. Partly it's a creative temperament thing. Definitely it's a "I'm too hard on myself" thing. At any rate, I find writing an anxiety-inducing process. I get more worked up about writing than I do about all the quantitative analysis that's demanded of me in school because part of my identity here is "the writer." On my bad days, I find myself stuck in the question, "If this is the one thing I'm supposed to be good at here, why is it so darn hard?"
Fear of writing has done more than made this blog collect a little more dust between posts. Fear of writing cover letters caused me to miss a few recruitment deadlines. Fear of writing prevented me from submitting a manuscript to Modern Love last year. Fear of writing has kept me fearing other things: "If I can't do this, I certainly can't do that," goes the toxic logic.
Somehow, faithfully, I still do it. Somehow, consistently, I force myself to push through this fear and write. Because writing is the the hardest thing I make myself do, and it's best thing I do for myself.
Even if it feels like it will kill me, even if the process feels pointless, even if what comes out of it "isn't any good" by my self-critical measure, I still write.
I am grateful for many things this holiday season, and I hope before the year ends that I do get to that post where I do an elaborate reflection on gratitude. But for today I am grateful for this post. It's my hundredth post, and that means I've pushed through all that fear one hundred times.
Here's to doing it a hundred times more. Writing on.