“I want people to feel like it’s ok to create. It’s ok to not be boxed in. I want people to feel like, awesome is possible.” – Kanye West
This month has been a bit of a whirlwind. I have been working every weekday, my friend Cat visited with her girlfriend, and I have been writing daily. Finding any time available, I have written as much as possible and tried to keep up the quality. It all started quite organically, I published for a couple days, then decided to do a week, then decided to do a month. At first it seemed a gigantic ask. But when you split it into little bits it all comes together quite nicely in the end. It seems almost too achievable to be considered a success, but I am proud of what I’ve accomplished.
It took effort. I had to keep myself from sleeping when I’m tired. I’ve had to consciously make the choice to write instead of doing something more distracting. I’ve had to fit this into my regular responsibilities, as a teacher to my students, who must plan and do all the extra paperwork, and as a fiance to my fiancée, who must make sure my end of the housework is upheld. A massive thank you to my fiancée as I almost definitely fell a little short of my end this month. I’ve had to keep my self-esteem up on days when my reading figures were low. I’ve shaken off the flops, I’ve powered through the doubtful ideas, I have pulled out bits of me I thought I never would, and I have blown my trumpet like the loudest troubadour.
So here are the five things I have learned writing every day:
1. There are no angry mobs who will burn down your house for saying what you feel
On the one hand, there definitely are Internet mobs. The level of abuse directed at people for small things is truly abhorrent. The amount of misogynistic and racist shit is ridiculous. I have received some questionable comments, but I’m fortunately shielded from the worst bits by WordPress’s filter.
That all being said, there is no reason to clam up and not let your feelings out just because you are worried about what other people might say. Even coming from a supportive family and with loving friends, I have still kept some things to myself over the years. This month I had to push myself to write everything. I had to relive humiliation and dwell in some past pain to write certain posts, such as my take on Friendship, my love letter to Cigarettes, and my sappy words to my Fiancée .
Nobody has criticised me for any of it. It’s often said that men are socialised to not express emotion, but what I’ve learnt here is that this blockage is in the mind rather than in people at large. Be open. If you can’t be open, be honest.
2. I am not that bad
I mean this as a writer and as a person. Sometimes I’ve had problems with not feeling like I could be loved. This may seem ridiculous given the aforementioned supportive people in my life, but I genuinely had this thing in my brain that said I was not especially lovable. I didn’t even think I was that likeable and was pretty sure I was a horrible person and a poor writer.
Eventually, I came to understand my self a bit better. I started loving myself a bit more and criticising myself a bit less. It’s a struggle, but coming to terms with yourself is a daily challenge. Everyone fucks up, but because we are closer to our own chaos we think it so much worse than everyone else’s.
Writing daily has been an amazing experience. I have come into contact with so much more of myself as I dissect my thoughts and feelings and splayed them all out for the world to see. Maybe one day I’ll look back on it and feel a bit uncomfortable, but that’s okay. I am finally convinced I am not nearly as bad a person as I thought.
Just a tad dramatic and with a touch of Calvinism.
3. Time in the market beats timing the market
That line is from Warren Buffett, and he’s right. To the writer just setting out, it seems a lot more rational to try and strike while the iron is hot, get your timely blows in, then move on to the next thinkpiece. My view is that there is more room for nuance and reason than you’d think.
You can pause. You can wait till the dust has settled before writing about something. In fact, that may often lead to a better result. How can you write accurately right after something has happened? When emotions and running high, the worst parts of your brain can lead you to making some pretty terrible decisions.
In addition, going for timely thinkpieces all the time is a strategy that will lead to creating a bunch of shit that doesn’t outlast the week. There is no expiration date on good writing. The most important thing is to shut up and do it instead of waiting and staying. Find the bright places where boom bands are playing.
4. Poetry doesn’t sell
Writing daily has given me time to stretch out creatively while pushing me to produce and produce and produce some more. In this time, I’ve had to grab things I love and write about them. This includes Dr. Seuss and The Libertines. Both those ideas did sell, people were interested, because they were easy to relate to. We all have favourite writers and favourite musicians.
But some other things you may be interested in are harder to shift. Not everyone likes historical parallels between statues in Prague and statues in Charlottesville. Not everyone digs into Limericks. This is totally fine.
While pro writers may say to kill your darlings, the benefit of a personal blog is that you’re writing mostly for your own pleasure. People can like the stuff or they can dislike it. Your poetry might not sell, but fuck it, it’s YOUR poetry.
Sometimes it’s just nice to get some of it out there.
5. Mums love me
Having paid keen attention to my Facebook likes and who shares my things, I have noticed this incontrovertible fact: mums love me. This includes my mum, my fiancée’s mum, my schoolmates’ mums, amongst others. These are far from the only people reading me but they are an interesting group of ladies who share only one thing in common and that is that they have children. No idea what I have done to earn their interest but I am very happy to bask in their adoration.
If you or anyone else you know has a mum who may like this blog, be sure to send it along to them!
This is what I have learnt by writing every day of August. You are not a bad person and you should feel free to express yourself. There are other things, but these ones will do. Moving forward, I will be looking to write a lot more than I did prior to this month, even if not daily. Let me just leave by saying a massive thank you to everyone who read me this month and I look forward to thrilling you further in the future.
The writer of this piece is looking forward to enjoying a holiday in Croatia and may be somewhat incommunicado for the first week of September