Music can be a form of perfection - with nothing added or subtracted, flawless just the way it is.

Why is it Hard to Write?

27. May 2016 writing

Stupid, frustrating fears

I’ve struggled with this ever since I started this blog; I’ll get an idea to write about something, get really excited about it, then not go through with it. It might be a great idea, and I’ll probably write two or three different beginnings but eventually will just succumb to different doubts and fears. It’s such a common and persistent pattern, that I thought it might be a good idea to write about it. Not to reveal some grand realizations, but to simply put it down somewhere.

I love writing about the things I care about. I enjoy dwelling on an idea/subject and thinking about how to put it into some sensible words. I love creating and collecting these short pieces about different subjects. And when I’m done with a piece, I like sharing it and talking about it with others. All of that is what gets me going. It’s why I write in the first place. On the other, much heavier hand there are all these reasons and thoughts that tell me I definitely should not write, let alone share it with others. Mostly, I am able to go past that, but very often these stupid fears will paralyze me. They will make me take a long time to finish something in the best case and drop the whole thing altogether in the worst.

One such example is a (non-existing) blog post about hearing Cécile McLorin Salvant live. I should preface this by saying, Cécile is phenomenal! She’s what I’ve been looking for in music for a while, but haven’t found it elsewhere (save perhaps in some older musicians). Her artistry and authenticity are inspiring and precious. In short, I adore her. I am obsessed with her work and can’t get enough of it.
So you can imagine my excitement last year, when I went to Germany to see her live for the first time. It was all I hoped for and then some. I was excited and it meant a huge deal to me. So much to write about! Exciting! Yet a week passed, a month passed, and I hadn’t written anything about the experience. Eventually, the year was coming to an end, and I had already made plans to hear her again, this time in Vienna. But I still hadn’t written the blog post about the first time. As the concert in Vienna was getting closer and I was standing still, I decided “well, it doesn’t make sense to write about that experience now. I’ll just write about this concert instead”. It sounded like a good plan, right? Vienna concert happened and it was incredible and I was again excited to write about it. Well, that was 3 months ago…

I wish this was an exception, but it’s what usually happens. I find that the more I care about what I am writing about, the more likely it is to happen. Hell, it took me a couple of years to write about Louis Armstrong, who got me into all of this in the first place.

As common as it is, I still haven’t found an efficient way of coping with it. Still gets me every time. The most common ways this fear comes up for me are:

  • The feeling that what I’m writing is crap
  • Feeling silly that I would ever publish such a thing
  • The fear that I’ll write something that is obviously stupid, but I don’t see it since I’m not experienced enough
  • The fear of being called out on something stupid I say

And no, listing it isn’t very helpful either.

I was talking about this with a friend the other day. She asked, if that’s what I experience when trying to write, why would I want to write at all? If I struggle with all of this every time, am I just forcing myself into something for no reason? This is something I’ve asked myself as well. That maybe these fears are telling me writing just isn’t for me. And on bad days, that belief wins. On good days I realize that being self-conscious about something doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. If anything, it’s something that I can work on and learn from it. On good days I know that these feelings (it’s all they really are) are temporary and the love of music overcomes.

Do you ever experience such walls? How do you cope with them? I’d love to know, because this is incredibly frustrating.

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