The world around me was bursting with things to write about, and I just sat there not being able to piece even two little words together. I have good days. Days when writing just comes to me so easily that my fingers start dancing on the keyboard pouring words as if by magic.
And then I have bad days. Bad weeks. Months, even. I still write in those days though—try to, at least. I keep on writing and deleting. Nothing feels complete or good enough. All the words that I want to write feel as if they are stuck in my throat. I feel suffocated. And then suddenly on one random day, the sun shines again, and I like what I write. Ah. Life!
I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pencil from my little fingers and scribble down stories that were floating like fairies in my brain. So, here are a few life lessons that writing taught me along the way.
Lesson 1: If You Wait for Ideal Circumstances, You Will Be Waiting Forever
There is never a perfect time to do anything. I have done my waiting sitting around until there’s a perfect time to write something very specific. That time rarely comes. You just have to sit down and do it the first moment you get. This applies to pretty much everything in life.
The conversations you need to have, the wrongs you have to right, the things you have to face that you have been avoiding—there will never be a perfect time to do them. You are never going to be prepared enough, rested enough, or inspired enough. So might as well just get it over with the first chance you get. If you have been waiting around to do something, let this be the nudge you need to go ahead and take that first step.
Lesson 2: The Balance Between Quality and Quantity
When I was about 20 years old, I went through a phase of being obsessed with the number of words I could write per day. I had a freelance gig that paid very little per word, but I could get as much work as I needed. So I hustled. The best I did was around 7500 words one day if I remember right. I was very proud that day.
Later on, I learned that when it comes to writing, quality always trumps quantity. You could write a book with 100,000 words, but if they do not have any real depth, interest, or insight, there is no value in it.
It is, however, important to note that the focus and the discipline I developed writing many thousands of words per day was invaluable. The lesson to learn here is that it is all in the balance. You have to put in your hours in quantity to come to a point that quality comes to you easily.
Lesson 3: Sometimes It’s Good to Not Feel Inspired to Do Something
Inspiration can be a tricky thing. More often than not, when something inspires you greatly, you only end up replicating someone else’s idea in a way that feels better to you. This is not always a bad thing. However, personally, I have done some of my best and most original work when I was completely uninspired.
There is something really freeing about a blank page and not having someone else’s narrative of the world nagging in the back of your mind. Embrace the days when you are utterly uninspired. That is when you can do things that have never been done before.
Read More: The Magic of Writing Things Down
Lesson 4: You Probably Suck Less Than You Think
Everyone thinks they suck. Many of them are so convinced that they suck so incredibly bad that they can never accept even the sincerest compliment. So, if you think you suck, relax. Your brain is genetically designed to be an asshole to you.
It’s called “negativity bias”. You tend to respond more intensely to negatives than positives because when you were a caveman, you needed that ability not to get killed. Your brain makes the negative things in your writing or just life, in general, more negative than they really are. Remember that the next time you feel you suck at something.
Lesson 5: Persistence Often Beats Talent
Steve Martin once said, “Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent”. You could be the most skilled writer in the world, but if you are not able to sit your butt down and see a project to the end, you will go nowhere. When highly talented people fail to persist, they will be surpassed by people with less talent who do.
Naturally, this is a lesson that applies to all aspects of life. You need to keep pursuing things until you achieve them. There will be rainy days, obstacles, frustrations, and letdowns, but you only fail if you fail to persist through them.