Make Writing Easier
Let go of the need for complexity and criticism.
It seems everywhere you look on Medium these days, there’s some new variation of article with a title like: “Follow these X steps and make Y dollars”, or “The definitive guide to writing for a living” and similar. On the one hand, I think that’s wonderful that people have found success by following some path that worked for them, and I wish them, and others, continued success along their chosen paths. But the fact is, there is no one right way to write. There is no secret game-winning formula that works for everyone.
Rather, what ends up happening is people feel like they need to do things a certain way, and when they fail to reproduce the kind of results that some other people had with a given method, it gives a false impression of failure or loss in self-confidence as a writer. But really, we all make this whole writing thing out to be too complicated. The details become overwhelming eventually.
Writing is easy. It’s simple. We have a habit of making it complicated by coming up with rules and restrictions, but those can be discarded easily if one chooses. Most folks will cite the need for “professionalism” in writing, but what is that really? “Professional” compared to whom, compared with what? It’s all relative, and the world won’t stop spinning just because we haven’t achieved someone’s ideal of “professional” writing in our own works.
Writing is a personal form of expression. Yes, I hear the world shouting, in the professional writing space there are rules the majority of us have decided and agreed upon that must be followed. At all costs. Or else! And if your occupation requires that you write a particular way or at a particular skill level, chances are good you’ve already got the tools and skills you need to write at that level of meeting other peoples lofty expectations, or at least have the means to develop them through practice over time.
If you’re really pressed about having to write professionally like this, try just writing naturally anyway, just like you normally would. Then set the writing down for a little while, read over what you wrote later, and make changes as needed. You might be surprised what a little time between writing and proofreading can do, and if nothing else, you take some of the pressure off yourself for having to chase idealized perfection as you write. The details can be filled in later, but only if they’re absolutely necessary to what you’re writing.
Despite what the world may say, you’re not required to abide by the rules in your own writing, any more than an artist has to follow rules when drawing or painting, or a musician has to follow rules when playing or composing songs. All you need to do is allow yourself to write, naturally, at your own pace that feels good to you. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just write what you feel, the way you want to. Quiet your inner critic. Ignore the shouts of the world.
The written word is a wonderful, simple form of expression, and no two people will do it exactly alike. It’s the unique expressiveness that makes writing beautiful and worth reading. If we all wrote like machines, everything would be boring and predictable to read. Like chewing gum when all the flavor’s already gone out of it. We’ve just forgotten the importance of simplicity and individuality somewhere along the way. No two people are alike, and neither are their words and expression of self.
And you may have times where you feel like you can’t write or move forward. Those times are okay too. Be gentle with yourself. One of the best things to do with stuck writing is come back to it later. Let it sit while you go do something else for awhile.
Watch a movie, take a walk, or do something that takes your mind off of the writing completely when you’re feeling stuck. Forcing the writing to come when everything feels off, struggling and getting nowhere with it is like trying to push a car down the road. You don’t need to do that. Just take a nap or sleep on it overnight and try again in the morning, when you can hop in the car and drive instead.
Sometimes it might even take weeks or months until you feel inspired to progress on that particular piece of writing again. It’s okay. You’re not behind or failing in life, and it’s even okay to start over, or go onto the next thing if that stuck one isn’t working out.
So cut yourself some slack, and just write however you feel like. It’s okay. Give yourself permission to be where you are. Make a habit out of letting your words just flow however they want to. Focus on what feels good to you in each moment. Go where your passions are. It doesn’t matter if you don’t write perfectly according to somebody else’s rules, because everything is already perfect in its individual expression.
Even all the things we’re quick to call “flaws” in our self-expression are perfect in their own way. Self-criticism, pointing out perceived flaws, that’s being hard on yourself. Try being easy instead.
Simply spare a few moments and marvel at the ability we all have to take thoughts and ideas and feelings that are inside of us, and put them into words for others to partake of and share in. It’s a wonderful gift all its own, and writing for writing’s sake should feel easy and fun. Keep it simple, no need to complicate things. Allow your writing to be as it is now. Look back on how far you’ve come, and marvel at your wonderful journey.