I am pretty good at being persistent with following my desires and ambitions for limited stints of time… which is a very positive sounding way of saying that I am really bad at being persistent.
As an example, in a period of about 8 months I went from never having done much running (discounting another roughly year-long period where I did so regularly in college), to running my first 5K, and 10K, and half marathon, in marathon. Then I slowly became less and less persistent, until I stopped running regularly and only did it sort of occasionally.
I have also gone through time periods where I have been really committed to writing, and time periods where, despite a desire to write things, I just don’t seem to be able to bring myself to do it. It’s easy to simply decide that one doesn’t feel inspired… just as easy as it is to tell oneself that one doesn’t feel like running in fact. To paraphrase some comedian who I’m too lazy to look up who it is right now… It’s really hard to find the time to do something when you really don’t want to.
That may be a bit contradictory, but if it is, then it is. I can’t say that I know the experience of other people, but I often find that I am in conflict with myself on any number of matters all the time. In fact, that is part of why it is important that I spend time writing my thoughts down… If I don’t do so, then I am not going to work out my inner conflicts.
Yesterday I picked up a book entitled “A Writer’s Guide to Persistence”. I am several chapters in, and it has been quite helpful to me thus far. You see, if there is one thing that I know I need to develop if I really want to write, it is a consistent writing practice. As it stands, I write when I feel inspired. That might mean every day for a few weeks, and then maybe once or twice a month for a couple of months, or anywhere in between. The reality is that not feeling inspired is just an excuse to not have to face the difficulty of really working things out. It can also be a way of shielding myself from writing something that I think may elicit negative feedback, or simply to save myself from experiencing criticism because I am quite certain that much of what I have to offer is quite regular and boring and inconsequential.
I think that sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the things that we already know. Often the way that I do that is to watch something that I find particularly inspiring, and so when I really don’t feel like I have anything worth saying to anyone, I watch my favorite movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If that movie strikes such a chord with me, then there is at least one other person in the world who is also resonates with, and there are likely many others. If someone (Charlie Kaufman) can write from a place that resonates with me, surely I can write from a place that would resonate with him… which is not to compare my writing ability to his in any way, or to say that my voice would be exactly the same. But, just feeling that some sort of potential is there is enough to inspire me to write SOMETHING, even if I know it’s probably not going to be as good. Especially when I hear him say things that sound like he doubts his own abilities as much as I doubt my own.
The obvious truth that I manage to keep myself from grasping is that while in one sense my experience is unique, that does not mean it is not relatable. While no one comes from the exact same set of experiences that I do, there are many who can relate to many or most of them, and would identify with my own struggles and pains and joys. Therefore, there is someone out there that I have something to offer to, and so it seems to me that I should.
I am not sure how to ensure that I become persistent in my efforts to continue writing, other than to keep trying to be persistent, and whenever I fail to do so, simply try again… and so that is what I will do. I know that I am better off writing than not writing, and so if I can let that be enough, perhaps I won’t even need to worry about whether or not anyone else thinks that what I have to say is worthwhile.