For me, the hardest part about writing has always been coming up with an actual idea that I wanted to write about. I really envy the writers who say they have dozens of ideas rattling around in their heads, and their only problem is finding enough time to do the actual writing, which they often regard as a chore. I’m the exact opposite: I love the process of writing, of experimenting with different words and phrases until I get it just right. I even like editing my work, because I find that after taking a short break from the creative process, I can see so much more clearly where there is room for improvement. For me, the problem is simply: what in the world am I going to write about?
English was always my strongest subject in school, but once I got to the age where the teachers no longer assigned topics, I usually struggled with finding an idea for all those assigned essays. It got to the point where I was searching for my topic while I was still reading the books, which definitely took the enjoyment out of reading. Later, when I decided to try my hand at fiction, I had the same problem. It took me forever to think of my plots, settings and characters. Once I had those figured out, actually writing the books and short stories was easy.
Sadly, the same problem continues with my blog. I have a self-imposed schedule of two blog postings a week, which means that I have to actually come up with two new ideas each and every week. I spent about a month before I started this blog thinking of ideas for posts and even writing a few of them out, just to be prepared. But I used those up a long time ago, now it is not uncommon for me to feel a bit of panic on the morning when I’m supposed to publish a blog post and I realize that I have absolutely no clue what I’m going to write about. (I am in awe of the people who post every day. And I know I’ll never be one of them.)
I think the problem is mostly self-confidence. Of course I have ideas, especially for this blog. I have lots of things going on in my life, and lots of opinions about the world around me. But I also have a nagging inner voice that counters most of my ideas with the discouraging words, “Who cares? Who would want to read about that?” I think that ultimately, my struggle isn’t with finding ideas or topics, it’s with having the confidence to put my thoughts, ideas, and feelings out there with the assumption that anyone else is going to find them worth reading. Because the bottom line is I write, just like most writers do, with the intention that someone else is actually going to read it.
In my fiction writing, things finally clicked when I learned to stop worrying about what an editor was going to think of my story and simply started writing the stories I truly wanted to write. When that happened, the characters, the plots, and the settings came much more easily. When writing for my blog, I am slowly learning to stop thinking about what my followers and readers want me to write, and to simply write about whatever topic is foremost in my mind at the moment. I keep reminding myself that this isn’t an English class and I’m no longer trying to earn that perfect grade.
The blank page, or computer screen, will always be a little bit of a problem for me. But with each blog post, with each story idea that I develop and write about, the process gets that much easier. I’m learning to trust my own opinions and ideas, and I’m discovering just a little bit more about who I really am and finding the courage to share that person with others. And that’s more than enough reason to keep writing.