I found a website earlier this week called 750words.com. The purpose is simple: login, and write 750 words a day. The idea is to encourage users to write “morning pages,” which are three pages of daily, stream of consciousness-style writing. That means you’re not supposed to edit, which has been really hard for me, but the idea is solid. If you check it out, be prepared for a no-frills, simple UI. I figured I’d give it a shot, and in the process, this blog was born.
Every morning before work this week, I’ve sat down at my laptop, logged into 750words and typed about 750 words around a topic that I wanted to write a blog post on. After work, I’d copy/paste the mish-mash of jumbled thoughts here and edit for clarity. Yes, scary. You are the pruned revision. My rough drafts are nearly illegible.
During college, I skated by with my writing. I was always good enough at it that professors rarely gave me suggestions, and since I was not an English major, my papers were never put through the ringer. My thesis statements were clear, my arguments were logically, and I wielded an understanding of basic grammatical rules. “A’s” flooded in. I benefited from the fact that the majority of my classmates did not have a handle on the English language, not so much because I have an excellent grasp of the English language.
After I graduated, writing became something that was delegated to text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, and work emails. When I read the concept for 750words.com, I thought “no big deal.” I used to be able to sit down and bang out a paper in less than an evening, so writing three pages about anything seemed like a piece of cake.
Boy, was I wrong. It’s been three years since graduation, which means I’m three years out of practice. The longest things that I’ve written since my last semester are client emails, and I would be shocked if those ever eclipsed 400 words. When I went back to edit the rough draft for my first post, I was appalled. Not only were the sentences themselves constructed poorly, so were entire paragraphs. It felt like trying to read one of those hobbled together, magazine cut-out ransom notes. I thought to myself: I really don’t think I can do this.
And that was my “ah-hah!” moment. How many times in my life have I let those words prevent me from pursuing something that I loved? Writing, drawing, photography, archaeology – I constantly find myself paralyzed by self doubt.
During the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college, I had the opportunity to spend five weeks in Greece. I was blessed not only with an amazing travel experience, but also because I met a group of amazing women. One of them runs her own printing press called Olive Juice Press (seriously, she is amazing – I want to be her when I grow up), and she posted this on her Instagram account:
“As an artist, I feel like I stand in my own way a lot. The future is so scary that I sometimes keep myself from moving forward out of fear: fear of deciding on a particular style, of not being good enough at sometime to try it, or even of choosing the wrong colors to represent my style. I am ready to jump in and make some exciting decisions and move forward with accomplishing my goals.”
Hearing someone who I really admire echo my own thoughts about myself verbatim resonated with me. I made a decision: I will no longer avoid trying things because I am too scared to not be good enough and too scared to fail. These posts will have errors. The pictures in them will have poor composition. But with time, my diction will grow more confident and my eye will sharpen. I am not here to be the best at something, but I am here to grow. Writing and photography make me happy. I can’t get back the years (and subsequently, the experience) that I’ve lost, but I can prevent myself from losing more. I know my English major friends will probably cringe here and there if they read this, and I know the artists in my life will have suggestions, but that’s okay. My only hope is that the majority of folks reading this will be able to walk away with, best case scenario, new ideas to consider and, worst case scenario, the feeling that they can relate on some level to what I’m saying.
I leave you this evening with some snapshots from the flowers blooming in my yard. They are cliche, and I was swarmed by mosquitoes (whom I refused to swat) to take them, but you have to start somewhere.
I hope you had a great week, lovelies. Thank you for reading.