Thursday, June 7, 2012

Up until recently, I never understood it. I never understood how writing could be daunting. Writing frees the mind and expresses what we're passionate about. Something magical happens when words flow, and have a rhythm, and come to life. It's an extremely personal process.

When I heard an accomplished writer say, "Writers will do everything they can to avoid sitting down and writing," I remember being confused. The thought of a writer who didn't want to write seemed a little pointless. Maybe this accomplished writer wasn't so accomplished after all.

But during my Journalism class last semester, it suddenly made sense: I never write on deadline, and no one else has to read what I write. I write on my own time. I write when I feel like it. And as we can see from the gap between last entry and this one, "when I feel like it" isn't very often.

It took me so long to get words on paper during my class that I didn't turn in a single story until the last week of school. We only had to write two stories for the whole semester---two feature stories at that! Features are coveted plots in Journalism real estate. But I just couldn't write.

Maybe it was because I knew it would take hours. I knew it would take hours to get one sentence. And I knew the sight of that stupid, blinking cursor would mock me until I got something out. But I just couldn't do it.

Instead, I did everything I could to avoid sitting down and writing---exactly like that accomplished writer said. I busied myself with other tasks, overcommitted to other papers and homework assignments, and did anything to distract myself from turning in a story.

It worked until the last week, too, before I had no other choice. I remember making an iced latte, heading outside with my laptop, and determining I'd stay until the article was finished. And I did it. After a few hours of writing and deleting, writing and deleting, I had an story that I was proud of.

And it was in that moment that I felt like an accomplished writer. It was in that moment that I flashed back to memories of high school Journalism, and co-editing our yearbook, and writing all the time, and remembered how much I love the process even though I also hate it.

I think every writer has to hit that sobering moment, too. It's because writing is so personal that it's so daunting. Turning in a story to your professor (editor) is like turning in a part of your soul. You've just spent hours writing and revising and being mocked by the cursor and sweating over each sentence and in an instant, that professor (editor) has the power to do whatever he wills with it. He could hate it and tell you to start all over again. (This has happened, does happen, and will continue to happen). He could think it's okay overall, but then take out the one part you thought was so good. Or, he could love it. But even if he does, there is always something that can be tweaked. Definitely daunting.

Like everything, though, writing is a process. And arguably, it's one of the most beautiful processes. The feeling I have after I write is like the feeling I have after a good piano performance. There is so much anticipation and hard work that goes into the process, and the process' entire fate rests in a few short moments. But once it's over---once the cursor has stopped blinking and once the last chord has struck---it's indescribable.

The love I have for writing is one of the most concrete passions within me. It's why I am only an English major now (and graduating in one semester), and why I really want to pursue Journalism as a career. The idea of de-cluttering sentences and reorganizing their structures excites me. If that isn't a clue that this whole writing thing isn't just something I do "when I feel like it," then I don't know what is.