Why You Shouldn’t Take Writing Seriously
I read an article this morning that reminded me of something I think we often forget:
Otherwise, what’s the point? Why are we doing it?
I stopped for a moment to reflect on this.
Hold on. Do you mean to say that writing doesn’t have to be all serious and gloomy and hard and stressful and anxiety-ridden and scary!?
I mentally began to re-visit my past three weeks of daily writing and publishing in my mind’s eye. Let’s see. How had I approached it?
Some days, I came to the blank page with excitement. There was something I wanted to write about, and I couldn’t wait to let it start pouring out of me. Other days, not so much! Sitting down to write felt like more of a chore than a joyful experience. And some days, it was just really bad — like pulling teeth, as I’ve written about before.
90% of the time, though, regardless of how hard it was to make myself start, or how difficult the process of finishing the post was, I would say that I was happy with the outcome. Does that count?
Looking back on it, it was fun to sit down with nothing, and create something every single day. It was fun to see how an idea would emerge, and how a story would take shape (sometimes on its own, it seemed).
If I’m honest, some days it felt like I wasn’t really doing anything. My fingers were typing letters, which formed words, and then those words became sentences — and before I knew it, I more or less had an entire article’s worth of words sitting on the page before me!
In that sense, it was like magic — and magic is always fun!
I made the decision to write at least 1,000 words a day and publish every day for the next year because I wanted to finally give myself something that I’ve always withheld — the chance to take my writing seriously.
I wanted to finally act on the voice that’s always told me to write, and to give this whole writing thing a solid effort for once.
Basically, I wanted to see what could happen. I wanted to explore the possibilities.
I was curious; too curious to put it off any longer. I wanted to find out for myself if making a living from my writing was actually possible. Sure, I knew others were doing it — but could I do it, too? That was my real question, the thing I most wanted to know.
However, the problem with taking something seriously is that it begins to feel serious.
And when something feels serious, it’s generally not much fun! (Or at least not for me).
When we’re caught up in the idea that we have to “be successful — or else,” it leaves us feeling nothing but anxious. Suddenly, everything we do becomes strained and careful. Every article we write has to be amazing, and every word we put down on the page has to be perfect.
If we don’t get a certain amount of claps or reads, or if we don’t reach a certain number of followers by a specified timeframe, we’re disappointed, and left feeling not good enough.
And that’s why I don’t think the “serious” approach to writing (or any creative act) is the right way to go about it.
If all you do is set yourself up for constant comparison and feelings of failure, you’re unlikely to find any joy or fulfillment in your creative endeavour at all.
It seems obvious when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, but when you’re in it, trying to attain success and achieve specific targets, it’s easy to get sucked down a tunnel where you feel like you have to fight to survive.
What if creating didn’t have to be so hard, though?
What if it could just be fun — something you do for the purpose of self-exploration and self-discovery?
What if all it is — and all it’s meant to be — is a tool to help you learn more about yourself. Wouldn’t it be more fun if each time you sat down to write, you thought, I wonder what I’ll find out today?
To me, that seems like the better headspace from which to write each day.
Instead of staring at the blank page, fearing that your window to “make it” as a writer is running out, stare at the blank page with interest instead. See it as a friend, showing up once again to help you grow, and to make you smile.
If we approached it that way, writing would become a gift we give to ourselves each day.
I n the movie The Secret, Jack Canfield says he lives his life by this one principle: “If it ain’t fun, don’t do it.”
I see how much value there is in that.
If writing or dancing or drawing, or even creating businesses is fun for you, then do it for that reason — because it’s fun.
If it’s not, then don’t.
It seems like such a simple concept, and yet it sometimes feels so hard to follow. I could do a lot worse than to remember these words every time I show up to write.
So, if the act of writing isn’t fun now, what makes you think it will be fun later, regardless of what changes occur on an external level?
The results of writing might be fun, if you “make it big” and the money and followers and fans and attention pour in, but if you have to continually suffer through something you don’t actually enjoy just to maintain that attention, you won’t be able to keep it up forever.
I think our souls gravitate toward joy, fun, love, and peace.
You can’t fool your soul — and in the end, it always wins.