As a writer, there’s nothing that simultaneously fills me with more joy and more anxiety than reading. I’m a firm believer in the maxim that if you want to write you need to read, but sometimes, I’ll admit, it just freaks me the hell out.
That’s because I’m always concerned I’m missing out on the “right” way to do something. I read a good book and think “Well that’s obviously the way to do it” and that my own writing doesn’t measure up. Same goes for a well-written blog post or other story. Seeing something that’s objectively great writing usually fills me with terror and dread and an overwhelming sense of inadequacy.
But here’s the thing: I still think writing is what I do best. That’s…it’s what I do. I’m a writer. I may not be everyone’s favorite kind of writer and my style may be one that’s uniquely suited for the online publishing boom of 15 years ago, but it’s mine. I’ve tried to write like other people but it just doesn’t work. I keep reverting to me.
What does that mean? For me it means I can’t stop letting my passion and attitude for whatever it is I’m writing about seep through into that writing. I write like I think, for better or worse. Little parenthetical jokes, random asides, lots of assuming no one sees whatever the issue is as clearly as I do…It’s all part of the same bundle.
Sometimes the main barrier to my writing process is, in fact, slowing down my brain so my fingers can keep up with what’s coming out. I’m writing in my head three paragraphs ahead of where my typing is. So why don’t I do something that might serve that situation better like start a podcast?
A big part of that is that my confidence in my speaking voice is even lower than it is in my writing style. I know I have a tendency to sound flat and affectless, so at least the written word lets the reader evaluate what I’m offering in their own internal voice.
The reality is I don’t know what I’d do without an outlet to write for, whether it’s my own or someone else’s. I’ve been doing some reevaluating of what I want to write, where I want to write it and more lately but what hasn’t changed is the core idea: I need to write. I write because I’m excited. I write because I’m depressed. I write to share my excitement. I write to share other’s excitement. It’s in my blood…it’s in my marrow. You may dig it, you may not and there are certainly writers that are better than me in specific genres and on specific topics. I’m the master of my own genre, thank you very much.
So what’s the point of all this? It’s a reminder, to me most of all, to not be depressed because someone does something differently than you. Different, no matter what the voices in your head might say, isn’t always better. It’s just…other. There’s room enough for everything and everything will find its natural level and audience. At least that’s what I’ll be repeating to myself the next time I come across a piece of writing that inspires little other than jealousy.