Lockdown is pretty much done and over with, but some things don’t have to change. Most probably, during these past few months, you’ve had to deal with a lot of unexpected free time. You also probably tried to make the most of it.
Now, most likely, you’ll keep doing some of the things that kept you sane all this while. So what is it? Did you take up a foreign language? An instrument? Drawing? Did you start writing? Or better yet, did you start putting together all the ideas you’ve been playing with?
The best thing is, just because lockdown ended, it doesn’t mean that you missed your chance to start doing all these things altogether. And what I want to argue in favour of is, especially, writing.
I’ve been writing long before Corona started wreaking havoc on our lives. It’s frustrating, every now and then it’s straight-up infuriating, more often than not it leaves you drained and tired… It’s also one of the most rewarding, fascinating and inspiring things I do. And, in spite of that mixed characterization, it does keep me sane.
One of the best things about writing, you’ll find out, is that it keeps you connected with the world.
I believe it’s a lot like drawing, in this aspect. You think you know a lot about something, but when the time comes for you to make that something come alive in your work – you’ll come to a very sudden stop. You’ll find yourself doing research about everything and anything, and you’ll be surprised to discover, after a session of writing, how much you actually learned about a certain subject, be it politics or poultry.
And grammar. You’ll learn a lot about grammar – and syntax, and punctuation…. And you’ll do it whether you want to or not. But I assure you, it will come naturally sooner than you think.
Ok, so you learn stuff, that’s nice. But you can also straight-up communicate with the world.
Comments, emails, messages, posts, reblogs, retweets, shares, tags… I’m pretty sure I’m still missing a lot of things, but my point is, if you decide to show your work to the world, you’ll get feedback. If you get something wrong, people will tell you. If you get something right, people will praise you. If you admit to being confused about something, people will explain it to you. And don’t fear the haters. They’re not a myth, but not every reader is a hater too. And in 99% of the cases you’ll get them off your case with a simple block or by acknowledging a mistake – if you truly did make one.
Scratch that, in 99% of the cases you won’t even have to deal with them. I made the pleasant discovery that people on the Internet can actually be pretty nice.
Of course, as with anything else, your choices and words will still have consequences, and more often than not, you’ll be treated the way you treat others.
What’s more, if you’re like me, you’ll literally live for the feedback. When it’s good, you’ll feel on cloud nine. And receiving criticism will be far from the end of the world as long as you’re ready to acknowledge there’s always room for improvement and as long as said criticism is sensible.
The best, best thing though? Writing gives you a purpose.
You’ll want to finish what you started, you’ll want to do well, you’ll want to do more. It will be like a drug; your first success will make you crave for another.
Still, I can’t acknowledge the dark side of the moon and all those memes about writers claiming they can’t write.
I’m ready to bet you’ll hate everything coming out of your mind. Brace yourself for that. Nothing will seem good enough, researched enough, polished enough… but it’s a vicious cycle that starts with the first feedback you receive. That first person that tells you that you did an amazing job will be the trigger for your second work. You’ll hate it too, someone will like it again, you’ll then get the drive to continue… it’s a “fake it til you make it” kind of experience. And one day you will; enough people will tell you you’re good to make you actually believe in yourself. And all the while, your self-esteem will keep telling you you’re still far from being good enough so you can keep improving.
My last and final argument is an observation, in fact. Have you noticed how I never mentioned a certain kind of writing?
What do you want to write?
A book? A short story? A poem? Fanfiction? Articles?
At their roots, they’re all the same in the sense that they need passion and research in equal amounts.
You’ll have to want to write and also to do more than just that.
In the end, my point is that you’ll feel like you’re going insane with every new project you take on. But the truth is things will also become clearer and clearer with every mission accomplished. And if you’re still confused, just try it out. People don’t even have to know your name! Platforms like Archive of Our Own, Tumblr, and even Wattpad make it so easy for you to get your words out there without the fear of a mistake being tied to you forever.
Learn, improve, make friends, find a purpose. Writing will keep you sane through the most unexpected means and that’s what makes it so beautiful.
Read more about listening to your gut and following your passion here!