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“Of all of the disciplines, writing is the most solitary. If you are a visual artist, you do studio time, and your instructor tells you about your brush strokes. If you are a dancer, you have a choreographer; you have people telling you that your moves are good. If you are an actor, you have a director. With writing, feedback doesn’t come until after you’ve already done it. You write an essay turn it into your teacher, and then they tell you where you fucked up. While you are doing it, which is how you learn, you don’t have someone sitting over your shoulder saying ‘that was a bad sentence, try it again.’”
Brian McGuigan, Volume 2 Issue 1
All That You Can’t Leave Behind
When you are new writer, you spend your time writing in the margins of your own life. We write in coffee shops, jot down notes in our iPhones; whatever works. I myself write on sticky notes and stick them to my planner or the back of my cell phone. I do it to remind myself to write later. Most of the time, the glue wears away before I actually sit down and write; and by most of the time, I mean 9/10 odds. I realized that the reason for my unconscious actions probably has a little bit to do with what Brian said: writing is solitary.
We’ve all heard the same old excuses: It is hard to sit down and write when the only thing that is holding you accountable is you. I don’t think that that is the real reason though. I think it’s the dread. As writers we work solo, we labor over what we think is sure to be the next great American novel. We toil over plot twists and characterizations until our heads are spinning. We kill our darlings and then resuscitate them only to kill them again, but crueler. However, it’s not until we slap together a manuscript and send it off to a big wig that we learn the truth: We, as Brian put it, fucked up.
That is a much bigger psychological fear. It is something, I recognize that’s held me back, and I would venture to say many other writers too. While it may be good to continue writing in the margins of your life— scribbling down notes, and waiting for time to give you a break— the truth is you are never going to be a writer until you, well, be a writer. Failure is part of the game. I’m going to fuck up, you are going to fuck up, we all are, as long as we continue writing. Don’t let the dread of failure hold you back; it’s inevitable in a solitary endeavor. Take today as an opportunity to move your writing career from the margins of your life, to an active part of your day each and every day. Write boldly in your work. Be a writer without provocation or trepidation, because the only way a writer really does fuck up is by not writing at all.
Get on it, Writer.
Editor-in-Chief, Word Lit Zine