On “Being a Writer”

I tend to harbor some romantic notions about writing that, objectively, I know are silly. I like the idea of being a writer, but the problem there is summed up nicely here by Alan Jacobs:

Wanting to “be a writer” is, generally speaking, not a good sign. That suggests not a commitment to a vocation but wanting to see yourself, or to be seen, in a particular way by others.

The truth of the matter is, there are days when I’m a writer, and days when I’m not. When I seriously commit to writing (like when I decide to post something every day on the blog for a period of time, or whatever), it beings to feel a bit more natural. But if I stop, even for a day, I generally stop hard. Tyler Cowen, in a recent interview about his writing habits, says,

Write even when you have nothing to say, because that is every day.

That’s a sobering thought. The reality is, most days (even on the days when I feel “inspired”), I don’t have much to say at all. The exercise of writing is simply that peculiar way that I try to disentangle the connections that my brain continues to make all day.

All of that to say, the act of writing is both encouraging and discouraging, often at the same time. It helps me make sense of some things, but I end up muddling other things. I worry what people think of me when I am honest, I worry that I’m not being honest enough, I worry that I’m boring and that my thoughts are interesting to no one. The truth is, that may be the reality. And yet, perhaps writing is still the exact thing I should be doing anyway.

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