Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Taking the Pressure Off

"I've had students who said they decided they were going to write the great American novel and haven't written a line since."
--Natalie Goldberg, from Writing Down the Bones

Why do we put so much extra pressure on ourselves when we write? Isn't writing cruel enough already?

We expect great writing sessions every time we sit down. We expect first drafts to flow out of our minds effortlessly. And we expect all of our written ideas to be profound and insightful, never commonplace, ordinary or stupid.

Why do we expect things that--let's be honest--rarely happen?

I can't remember the last time I sat down to write a blog post and the first draft was workable in its original form. And I probably have one, sometimes two, truly good writing session a week, despite the fact that I write every goddamn day. And nearly every post I've ever written--at my food blog Casual Kitchen, at my classical music blog or here at QWT--contains at least something uninsightful, obvious or dumb. Sheesh.

The only reason I've managed to keep writing is because I try not to have any expectations at all. I write and I write and I write, and I publish the least bad stuff I manage to come up with.

Try not to expect so much. It only leads to misery. Just shut up and write.