I just finished up running an event focused on helping writers battle distraction — the type of stuff that gets in the way of their writing.
I did deep interviews with nine creative professionals. And I think Dani Shapiro summed it up best:
“Not only doesn’t it get any easier, it actually gets harder.”
That quote is from her book Still Writing. If you haven’t bought it yet, go buy it. If you bought it already, buy another copy for a friend.
When I spoke to Dani for the event, I asked her about this. She elaborated:
“[At another event I spoke at] I listed having a best-selling book, having a great review in the New York Times, having a big piece in the New Yorker, being on Oprah. And all of this stuff, essentially saying, “I’m sure that you all think that if all of these things happened to you that you would be completely set.”
“And then I went into what that actually feels like and what the truth of that is, which any writer who’s had any of that kind of success, if they took a truth serum, they would tell you not only that [it gets harder], but its how it should be. Because the writers who get infected with a kind of confidence or a sense that, what they’re doing is actually great, stop making anything that is great. Because there is a seed of, I think that’s really important, of insecurity and anxiety and striving. Feeling like, ”I don’t know if I’m hitting the mark,” in order to keep on striving and get ever closer to hitting the mark.”
“There isn’t one single piece of writing that I have done in the last 20 years that did not begin with my thinking, “Here goes nothing. This time this is not going to work.” Whether it’s a book review, an essay, a blog post, or a book, that feeling of, “I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here.”
“All of language of the inner censor comes roaring to the surface. “I’m not good enough.” “So-and-so did it better.” “What is so-and-so going to think?” “What right do I have?” Shame, vulnerability. “This is stupid.”
“You can go on and on, whatever, pick your poison. And one of the things about the inner censor is, it keeps on shifting, and morphing, and changing throughout a writer’s life. It’s not like you get to identify your inner censor and then, that’s it, you know your inner censor. Because if that were the case, you could get rid of them, right?”
This was the point of the event I ran. To address challenges that stand between you and your craft head on. To not “inspire,” but instead demystify, and in doing so, preparing you to take meaningful action.
If people are out there selling you “easy,” you should be skeptical.