It matters that we give our work to the world and not just take from others’.
Sitting down to write this article is making me feel physically uncomfortable.
My bladder is full, throat itchy and my bra tight against my chest. I would rather be doing anything but writing.
But I must write.
I must ignore the distractions and sensations seeking to pull me away. The phone notifications, the life admin to-do list, the bodily functions and anything else biding for my attention.
I must write because I said I would write.
I’ve been up for seven hours this Sunday with so far nothing to do but writing, yet in this time I’ve reorganised all my desktop files, read about star sign compatibility, registered for some networking events, been on a walk, bought a new mattress, showered and tidied my room. All (well, most) of these things are worthy of doing, but none of which contribute to the goal of writing.
You see, writing has become my nemesis.
As a productive and self-motivated person, I am generally able to action most things into existence once I set my mind to them, often to the amusement/annoyance of friends and family who will marvel at my impatience and goal-oriented nature.
If I want something I’ll tend to do my utmost within reasonable (always morally and ethically sound) means to make it happen.
Writing is different though.
Writing a process without a clear finish line.
If the goal of writing is to have your writing read, then achieving that goal should only result in needing to write more for the people who liked what you wrote the first time around. ‘Success’ lies in appealing to your audience enough to get positive reinforcement, and in theory, this feedback should only motivate you to write more.
And if you suck and no one reads it? Then maybe you’ll stop, or just maybe you’ll keep writing so you can get better.
Either way, you can’t ‘complete’ writing or tick it off the to-do list.
The only loop-hole here is found by not putting writing on the to-do list in the first place.
But writing is at the top of my to-do list.
It’s been on the periphery for years, a vague interest, or low-medium priority alongside my other pursuits.
But in the last month, it has gained eminence and it’s all I can think of doing with my spare time.
Writing is not making me any money (at least currently) and it isn’t my career choice.
Writing is a part of my world because its integral to the way I think and process.. I manage my emotions through frequent journalling, my tasks through making lists, understand my subconscious by writing down dreams, and store almost every passing thought that is important into my Evernote folder.
You name it if it’s important to me, then it will be written somewhere.
But these words have been mounting.
Physically taking over — here are my notepads from just the last couple of years alone.
Digitally speaking, my Evernote has over 2000 notes stored and probably twice as many deleted again just in the last few years.
I tell you all of this because I know many of you reading this are the same. And you have to listen up.
If you write half as much as I do, it is for a reason. A reason which is not insignificant to you, or to the world.
My writing, your writing, or your whatever shape your gifts take matter.
This work you have to bring to bear will always be met with resistance upon your trying, however. Procrastination (mattress buying) happens when we sit down to do the work because resistance actually deserves a capital R. The Resistance is a real, yet invisible force that meets us when we begin to create.
I believe we are uniquely created and have innate gifts. These gifts are not for our own enjoyment alone, but for the good of the world.
This article isn’t about achieving world fame or success, there’s hacks and tips available elsewhere if that is what you’re seeking. This is about creating.
You don’t even need to consider yourself ‘creative’ to create. You don’t have to think divergently or dream up make-believe stories and characters or need to be good with composition, colour or lighting. It’s not an art class.
Creating is about saying to the world, hi, this is what is inside of me.
There are rich sources of valuable work inside of you just waiting to come out, and it matters to the world that they do.
The world would be immensely boring if it weren’t for creators gone before us.
Imagine the following:
An Italy without the Leaning Tower of Pisa, because
Bonanno Pisano chose instead to take in the city’s architecture in his own leisure pursuit?
An early-modern England without Shakespeare’s poetry and plays, because young William chose instead to spend his time observing Robert Greene’s acting or working on the farm.
The 21st Century without Harry Potter, because JK Rowling instead chose watching TV with her daughter each night?
A New York in the 60s without the comedic genius of Woody Allen, because rather than put pen to paper, he instead chose just to amuse himself with the newspaper columnists work of the day.
My writing matters not because I am likely to reach the heights of fame of fortune of these people, but that I might just create something that gives value to someone else, much like these people have provided us.
It matters that I create and it matters that you create.
Recognise The Limits To Consumption
“People generally fall into one of three groups: the few who make things happen, the many who watch things happen, and the overwhelming majority who have no notion of what happens. Every person is either a creator of fact or a creature of circumstance. He either puts color into his environment, or, like a chameleon, takes color from his environment.” — Myles Munroe
We are here for a short time and in the document regrets of the dying, hear how many reach their death beds wishing they had only had more eave things time, confidence, energy or knowledge to do the things they most wanted to do but left too late.
Thankfully not on my deathbed, but I don’t want to risk leaving my creation much longer.
However, be careful, as procrastination can disguise itself into forms which are very similar to doing the work, but are not the work.
My recent procrastination towards writing has taken shape in the form of lists of headlines I could write, studies on other writers bios, analysis and highlighting of top stories… you name it. I’ve gone over what makes someone successful at writing and blogging and email lists and I do NOT feel I’ve truly grasped it.
More importantly, by no means have I consumed it all.
You can never consume it all, so don’t even attempt to.
Consuming is great. We can learn, be entertained, inspired and informed. I could not have got as far as this sentence without having recently been inspired by others’ writing.
Netflix, Spotify, BuzzFeed, Medium… I could fill my days consuming and I’m sure so could you. (This isn’t a slant against technology, I’m including our beloved books in this equation too).
But there becomes a point at which you must stop the consumption and give back.
The world needs access to your unique perspectives and the amalgamation of all the things you’ve consumed with your own personal experiences.
That is a story worth telling.
On holiday I met a man who told me that outside of his day job working at a University, he was writing a book about the topic that fascinated him the most in life — philosophy.
Whilst he is not a professor himself, working in a University has had him exposed to big thinkers and academics on a day-to-day basis, and he’s gained new perspectives on life through being in this environment coupled with his own personal history.
When I asked him what the timelines were for his book and when I might be able to get a sneak preview, he looked wistfully into the distance and told me it would be a much longer-term project, so no time soon.
Not one to be deterred, I pushed him again for a timeline, to which he answered that he would not be ready until he’d learned a lot more from others gone before him on the topic. Once he’d read more, then he would write.
Hopefully, you’re one step ahead of me here. This man spends his days literally surrounded by books.
Do you think there will ever be an ‘endpoint’ to his consumption of the literature?
Of course not. If he waits until he’s ready… if you wait until you’re ready… you will run out of time.
We have to create now.
Short or long, you can publish your writing online for free today if you wanted, and if you’re fortunate to live in a world of free speech, there is no one to stop you.
I’ve written this in the space of an hour (the version you read may end up having some more edits) but in this last hour I have gained more clarity and perspective on this whole writing business than I’ve had in a long time.
It’s only through writing that I understand the jumbled mess of thoughts from my head in one place.
Final Thoughts & Silencing The Negative Voices
I just searched my Evernote folder in case there was any quotes or gems I should be adding to this article before posting, and stumbled across this slightly garbled note I wrote on the go a few weeks ago.
I don’t remember writing it but it must have been during a moment where I needed some motivation to write my blog Roosted and break a cycle of procrastination/The Resistance.
The third bullet point I wanted to draw your attention to and have included this slightly exposing and cringe-wothy look into inner world because of the fact that I write whilst suffering from an imposter-syndrome induced anxiety. I have a voice telling me I’m not qualified to write advice online.
I don’t know if that voice is right or wrong, but I think I was correct in this statement:
“If there are 100 people in the room on the subjects I write about I will always be in the top 10%”
I write for a general audience, not the world expert.
This ‘why’ I’ve written reminds both myself and you right now, that you can create. You can create because by the very act of creating you will be doing more — and therefore be better qualified — than everyone that isn’t creating.
I am qualified to write life advice based on the fact I care so much about it.
As this third bullet point reveals, I have read (cough-consumed-cough) so much of it and benefited from others’ wisdom over the years, that now it’s my turn to contribute. It’s time that I write on the off-chance I can support others’ aspirations to create something that matters in the world.
It matters that I spent the last hour creating, and not consuming yet another how-to-be-successful-on-Medium article. I’m really glad those exist by the way — nothing against them, in fact please continue. They write so we can write. Right? (sorry, had to be done).
Now I write and will continue to write, I hope that others do too. It takes guts, I know. It’s scary. But if you don’t believe me, then believe the master of creativity himself, Walt Disney.
“Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four Cs. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” — Walt Disney
I can’t wait to see what value you have to offer the world.
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