I’m sitting here at a coffee shop close to my office. I’m on my lunch break right now, but my lunch is an americano, the steam rising slowly out of the open cup. I’m tucked away in the deepest corner of the shop, where my contact with others is kept to a bare minimum. I haven’t written words in over two months. Jobs, moves, work, kids, and anything else that could have stolen the words from my fingers, all weaseled their way in and sucked me dry. I didn’t want to write. At all.
My friend Micah talks about gremlins. Not the movie (though that’d be cool too.) Gremlins are the voices that sit on your shoulder and tell you all the reasons you shouldn’t be wasting your time. All of the reasons why you should literally be doing anything else except writing. They are different for everybody, but oddly enough, their voices all start to sound the same after a while.
“You’re not good enough."
“Nobody wants to read this."
“Why are you wasting your time. Shouldn’t you be doing something else? Laundry? Working? Fixing something around the house? Anything?"
You get the idea. Gremlins are mean.
A few weekends ago, I attended Faith & Culture Writer’s Conference, here in Portland. Last year’s conference was an eye-opening experience for me, so this year I volunteered to help plan the conference. An inside look into the conference, plus free admission? Win/win.
During one of the guided writing group times, Micah had us sit down and list out all the nasty stuff our gremlins tell us. Get it out in the open. Lay our cards on the table. Then after that, we wrote a response letter to the gremlins, essentially telling them where they could shove their opinions of us.
After we went around and read our letters to them (several of which included well placed swear words,) Micah had us do something I was incredibly uncomfortable doing. He had us write a letter of encouragement and admonition to ourselves, as writers. Why is it okay to be a fan of someone else’s writing, but not our own? Doesn’t that seem completely backwards? Shouldn’t we be proud of who we are, and what we write?
I’ve spent the last three weeks mulling over the concept of being your own fan. It seems arrogant. It seems narcissistic. It seems egotistical. It seems too hard.
But maybe that’s the point. Maybe the biggest obstacle we have to overcome as artists is simply believing that the art we create is worth something.
So I’m back behind the keyboard. It’s not perfect. It’s not always pretty. But it’s honest. It’s real. I’m done trying to be a writer that I’m not. I want to write from the heart, not for likes, or shares, or clicks. I want to use my little corner of the internet to share my story with others, be it five or five thousand. I’ve even put together an eBook of my last two years of blogging. I’d be honored if you’d download it. It’s free at Noisetrade, or it’s $4 over at Amazon.
If you’re an artist of any kind, recognize the gremlins. Figure out what they’re telling you, and then firmly, and loudly, tell them to shut the hell up.
[tweetthis] Maybe the biggest obstacle we have to overcome as artists is simply believing that the art we create is worth something.[/tweetthis]