I often wonder... Well, if I'm honest I wonder about a lot of things, day in and day out. I sit and ponder an overwhelming amount of ideas and thoughts. Though, today I wonder if other writers are like me, which I'm sure many writers wonder. Most importantly, I wonder if writing comes in waves. Writing comes and goes, in and out of my life, again and again. I have spurts where writing is all I do, and then I have days, weeks, months, sometimes even years where I don't do very much writing.
Though, if you ask me what I do when I'm actively writing everyday, I will tell you that I am a writer. I will swear up and down that I write all the time. I'll say that I've been writing since I could type sixty words per minute on a computer!
The honest truth is that I really only think about writing all the time.
Don't get me wrong; that's an important part of writing! If not the most important part of writing!
I think about how much I want to write. I think about what I'd like to write, about how I'd love to have nothing better or more important to do than to sit in front of a computer and write all day! And then, when I have a day when I have absolutely nothing to do, I feel guilty for wanting to spend that time writing! I feel like any other time I have a million things to do, and how could I possibly sit down?! How could I possibly sit down and stare at the computer screen for a few hours? There has to be something I've forgotten to do, right?
So I spend my time I could spend writing obsessing over what must have slipped my mind. Then I finally realize that there was something I forgot to do, so I do that instead. When I'm not doing anything and I could spend my time writing, I figure that there must be something more important to do. Something more pressing. And there usually is, unfortunately.
I experience this overwhelming guilt over a lot of things, but mostly writing.
The way I try to cope with a lot of my feelings is to understand why I feel this way. I often ask myself, 'Why can't I write?' Though, I'm usually yelling out in frustration because all I desperately want to do it write. Part of how I answer this question, is through the dictionary.
Some of you are thinking, 'What? How does that help you?'
Honestly, stay with me now. We use so many words every day. Sure, we know the basics of what they mean, but do we really understand what they mean? Or what they initially meant? We assign our own definitions to words, our own understanding, and sometimes the true meaning can go askew or become distorted. Sometimes maybe even just a little bit lacking, even though we are on the right track.
When I think of the word guilty, I think about feeling bad. I feel bad for wanting to write. I feel bad for wanting to do something that I want to do rather than something I should be doing. But then I think about it and I wonder, 'Why do I feel bad? Why do I feel guilty?'
So I turn to the dictionary, and the dictionary tells me that I feel bad because feeling guilty means that I feel like I've done something wrong. This definition is so much more satisfying than, 'I feel bad.' It's also much more powerful and helps me to understand what's really wrong.
I read something the other day, a quote on Twitter by Sylvia Plath; 'The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.' I thought, 'Oh, well that makes sense. Self-doubt; of course I doubt myself.' Then I realized I didn't really realize why I doubted myself. So, I went to the dictionary and looked up self-doubt. And the dictionary told me that self-doubt is a lack of confidence in oneself and one's abilities. I sat there in my chair and thought, 'Well now that really makes a lot of sense.'
I am far from an established writer, even farther from being a well-known writer. So of course I am going to doubt myself. Of course I'm going to feel like I've done something wrong!
And I think that's a problem that a lot of writers face; not just me. Or, at least I hope. I also think it's a combination of self-doubt and self-placed guilt and numerous other feelings. It's overwhelming.
Though, as I sat in my chair and realized how much sense all of that made, the self-doubt and the guilt, I also realized that I felt better. After looking up the definition of the words that I wanted to use to describe my feelings, it helped me to do a little bit of self-analysis, and after thinking about it, I felt so much better, as I often do.
I also happened to be looking at the name of my blog when I was going through all of this turmoil. So I looked up cognitive, which really means relating to cognition. Cognition means the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the sense. Well, and then I wondered, as I sat there feeling so much better about my situation, 'Could it really be that simple?'
Can cognitive understanding help you, or me, or anyone else for that matter, hurdle the mental barrier that we place on ourselves through self-doubt and self-placed guilt?
I'm curious as to what you think. I'm curious if it helps anyone else! Try it! Think of how you're feeling; mad, sad, even the more complex feelings of frustration or resentful. Let me know. Comment below, send me an email, tweet at @TresaWriter and tell me your thoughts!