I have been reading quite a few books and blogs about writing non-fiction articles recently, putting the styling techniques and grammar tips into practice. I have also been reading more novels to expand my imagination and hopefully, vocabulary, so I might aptly describe what I would like to. I was on a quest to become a more prolific writer.
So as I drafted a few articles for newspapers, I applied the lessons I learnt and set about editing and re-writing my drafts. I was quite pleased with my efforts and satisfied I had done my best. I decided to leave one of the articles overnight and come back to it one last time the next day with a fresh eye before submitting it to the editor.
The next morning, I turned on my computer again and expected to run quickly through the article, smile at myself, and attach it to the email to send off.
However, I was caught by deflated surprise. Suddenly, I found a number of flaws in the logic and argument. There were typos everywhere, and the writing sounded dull. The article didn’t sound too interesting anymore. I was almost on the verge of tears and was tempted to write to my editor and tell her my dog ate the draft.
I said to myself, “It’s just an article and it doesn’t matter if I didn’t get printed this time.”
Julia Cameron warns against this mentality in her book, The Artist’s Way, a book to guide others to discover their creativity.
Many artists begin a piece of work, get well along in it, and then find, as they near completion, that the work seems mysteriously drained of merit. It’s no longer worth the trouble. To therapists, this surge of sudden disinterest (“It doesn’t matter”) is a routine coping device employed to deny pain and ward off vulnerability.
Indeed, it was my way of avoiding the disappointment I felt about my work. I also did not want to spend extra time and effort to further polishing the article. I didn’t want to deal with the perceived obstacle, nor admit that my confidence in the draft is shattered. Suddenly it seemed that the whole world could write better than me.
I found as many excuses as I could:
- There were more proficient writers
- My topic was boring
- Others could write the same topic so it didn’t matter if I submitted my draft or not
- No one would read what I wrote
- I won’t die if I didn’t write
- There was no point in trying to become a writer
Self-doubt blinded my passion for writing. The effort required to reach the goal I set for myself seemed too much for my psyche to bear.
I consoled myself that even if I didn’t reach the goal, it doesn’t matter.
And with that, my enthusiasm and energy slowly dwindled away. I was establishing a defensive wall around my self-doubt.
This is why many of us never write that book, or that guest post, or paint that picture or design that graphic.
We think: it doesn’t matter. But it does – even if only for ourselves…
I finally picked up my weary soul and went about editing the article. It took me another 2 hours, but after I sent it off to the Editor, I felt good about myself, that I had conquered the self-doubt in me.
Next time you find yourself saying “it doesn’t matter” – stop yourself, and focus doubly hard on that exact task you think doesn’t matter. For it does, and each little step you spur yourself on will create all that difference in life.
That article I submitted led to a subsequent invitation to write again, and again…and now I write regularly for that paper.
It does matter.
(Photo credit: Tower on Beach via Shutterstock)