I have been writing on various types of mediums as far as I can remember. Unlike others, I did not start writing online on blogger.com. I, however, like any other eager young adults around my age, started with MySpace.
Yes. MySpace. I hope you know what that is.
MySpace used to provide a section where you can write your thoughts, experiences and feelings and they would be displayed on your profile. Then I stopped. I deactivated my profile and went quiet for several months.
Sometime after that, I started my own blog. I have long forgotten the name of the blog but I wrote there religiously that I was approached by AdSense. The young and stupid version of me had no idea what AdSense was so I did not take part in that traffic-money-generating stuff. This happened back around 2009 or so. Then, I made a different blog that focused on interesting general topics like sea monkeys and stuff. That did not get any traction but I enjoyed it. Then I went into hiatus.
Apart from writing online, I have several unfinished manuscripts of short stories and novels. Similar to MySpace and Blogger, I poured my heart out on those pages, wrote interesting but dark stories and closed the book. I stopped writing, yet again.
The only thing that is consistent throughout my writing years is poems. Why? You’d ask. It’s because they are short. I spent, probably, less than 15 minutes stringing figurative words together and voíla! I sound mysterious, intelligent and cavernous in 200-word stanzas.
If you aren’t able to see the pattern here, let me tell you amigo: I write, I publish and I stop. Write, publish, stop, and repeat. That’s what I did. But why? It’s because…
Writing Makes Me Feel Extremely Stupid
Let me be real; most of the articles I have written, I don’t know much about them. I rely on Google and ChatGPT as my teachers. Whenever I use ChatGPT, I take an extra step where I use Google to cross-check the facts and figures. Above all, I take pride in making sure that I get my facts right.
The more I do my research, the more I realize that I know nothing. The funniest part is that I had felt the exact way when I did my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree thesis. If I have felt it in academia, why would I feel this way writing non-academic things? After all, I have had the training, right?
Because, we, as humans, have very limited brain capacity. Some things just don’t register (or refuse to register) into my prefrontal cortex. So…
I Continue Feeling Like A Fraud
Each time I write about something that I am not familiar with, my brain produces an imaginary clown dancing in my head and telling me, “You’re an imposter!” Yeah, I know. My Asian perfectionist brain is very mean. But please stay with me.
This clown emerges each time I go on Google and search for basic stuff like ‘how to spell
dissappear‘. “Haha, it’s d.i.s.a.p.p.e.a.r, you stu-“, the clown said before I shut him up into his circus tent.
But that’s just how our brains work. We experience imposter syndrome for not knowing the most basic things. Then, we shut our brains and continue. But what happens when we feel stupid each time we write?
We Stop Writing and Weep Quietly With Our Clowns
Yes. Those clowns can be our friends sometimes. “Don’t worry. Maybe writing is not something that you should do right now. You know, there’s a new documentary on Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s court case on Netflix. Maybe we should check that out and avoid feeling like a giant loser”, said the clown. At this point, I should give the clown a name right? No! The clown doesn’t deserve recognition.
But maybe we should watch that documentary. After all, it’s only four hours long. And it’s entertaining too. Fun!
After four hours of laughter-packed documentary, what do we do? “Oh, I know! We should check out a new video by our favourite YouTuber”, the clown suggested. And I did.
After spending a whole day weeping (in my head) and watching foolish videos, I felt like it was time for me to get back on writing. Oh sorry, it’s already 11 p.m. I should sleep and continue the next day. After all, beauty sleep is imperative!
And the next day came. “Okay, a new day has come. Let’s write!”, I said excitedly. I search for a topic online, do the research and start writing the draft on my Google Docs. But wait, what is ‘fibromyalgia’? I read on the topic and continue feeling like a fraud in my attempt to write about it.
“You know…”, the clown reappears.
Damn you clown. Let’s go Netflix!
These are the things that were going on in my head each time I tried to write. It’s not easy. And I bet you have your internal clown too. Well, they might necessarily be a clown. It can be a monkey or a unicorn that farts glitters but you get it. So what happens next is…
We Procrastinate On End
Since we feel bad, we avoid that negative emotion and we focus on something fun instead. Now I don’t consider myself a major procrastinator because I used to work in a demanding environment that required focus and a lot of self-discipline. But writing is a different profession altogether. Nothing happens until you make it happen. There’s no deadline. There are no text messages from your boss after work hours reminding you what you need to do for the next two weeks. None. Writing comes from your initiative and awareness.
And when you try to write, the cycle continues. You write, do your research and you go back feeling dumb. But I have good news for you, writers…
You Are Not Alone In This Cycle Of Ignorance
When I started writing this, I typed into Google ‘Do you feel stupid when you write?’ and Google provided me with 86,900,000 results. That is close to 9 million people feeling the same way you and I do.
So What Do We Do?
I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to embrace the feeling and not to avoid it. Mark Manson in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** discussed an unnamed writer who wrote over 70 books. When people asked this anonymous writer about his secret to writing that many books, his answer is as simple as, “Write 200 crappy words a day”. That’s all. There’s no secret to good writing. For me, there’s no secret to being good at anything other than just keep going. I guess this is where Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan is utterly relevant. We don’t think much, we just do it.
No one indeed likes to feel stupid and feel like a fraud when they write but forgive yourself for not knowing everything. We are not Google. We don’t have the answers to everything. And when we don’t know, we learn. That is the best part about being a writer.
I am no expert when it comes to Bloom’s Taxonomy. But I am pretty sure that writing encompasses all the skills of that scheme of classification. Heck, I even dare say that it is the highest skill in that taxonomy. Why? It is because this skill requires you to produce original work. So go on and write your 200 crappy words a day.
Shut up, clown!