The other day my Advanced Writing professor gave my class the best advice I could have ever asked for. She told us, “You have to write poorly in order to write well.” Lately my writing and I have been in a battle of life or death. We both go into a word document knowing that only one of us will close the window alive. Often I feel like my writing lacks just about everything. The organization is off, there’s no heart, my sentences are choppy, and the entire piece runs dry with no purpose. 5 points given to writing who delivers a roundhouse kick to my gut.
To make matters worse, I’m an English major and a writer for my college’s Yearbook. To write and to write well is my job and my classes and duties refuse to let me avoid it. I used to love writing and in high school I praised the heavens when my teacher allowed me to write a paper instead of taking a multiple choice test. Writing was my skill and a huge factor in choosing my current major. I’m not trying to say that I hate writing now because I don’t. I still love it which is why I have this blog and why I’m choosing to write at this very moment. Writing means a lot to me which is why I want to do it justice. I don’t want to whip up a half-hearted paper and call it a day because then I would never grow and I would be insulting writing as a whole. I want to write well and because of that I’ve become fearful of failing at that goal. I’ve begun fighting with my writing. I write a page and then take my cursor over the words, set them on fire with a highlighter, and let them disintegrate off the document. 10 points given to myself after delivering a fist punch to writing’s faceless mug.
As you can imagine, Advanced Writing has become a ring for my writing and I. When my professor uttered those faithful words I could see the florescent lights begin to dim, allowing one single beam to shine down as a chorus of angels sang from the stuttering air conditioner. Writing, much like anything in life, takes practice. You can’t jump on a bike for the first time and expect yourself to do tricks and show off your mad skills to the elderly watering their lawns. Naturally, you’ll fall, bruise yourself, and occasionally snap a bone or two. These downfalls can’t be avoided, but they shouldn’t stop you from getting on that bike. Even if you’ve ridden before and you were pretty alright, you’ll still need to brush up on your skills every now and then. Obstacles will begin to appear causing you to continue to improve. You may do well avoiding small dogs and scattered branches, but one day there will be two people carrying a long couch that you’ll need to jump over. When that situation occurs you can’t be afraid. You have to take a deep breath and go for it. Sure, you might fall, but that doesn’t mean you stay down. 15 points to the bike that put you in a choke hold. What to do now? Grab a chair and hit that guy until he sees you aren’t a quitter. Don’t let the bike control you because you are the only one preventing yourself from improving. To ride well, you first have to ride crappy by falling down and running into couches.
For me, writing is that bike. I’ve been given new obstacles with challenging classes and being a Yearbook writer where my team depends on me to a good job. I need to learn how to stand back up, put a band-aid on my wounds, and try again. Otherwise, I’ll never reach my goal. I don’t want to be in that wrestling ring my entire life. I want to be able to win the giant belt and walk out victorious. Sure, there will be rematches, but I don’t want to be fearful of those situations anymore. I want to keep my head held high as I walk into the rumbling, dimly lighted room where writing waits for me in the ring, getting pumped up for our next match.