Last night I felt this incredible surge of energy in my heart. It came immediately after recognizing that sometimes writing is difficult for me, but that I could become someone who’s easily able to write about even the most hard to articulate topics. It was this feeling that my writing could take me anywhere. That by developing my ability to write I could remove the barrier between my personal experience and the world.
After I hit this point of excitement, I thought of people like Bill Simmons (comedic sports writer and founder of grantland.com) who took their ability to write and capture an audience and eventually turned it into an empire. He once hosted Nate Silver (the guy who used big data to correctly predict who would win all 50 states in the 2012 US presidential election) on a podcast, and they talked about how strange it was to go from writing a column to being someone who’s on TV and all of a sudden has an amazing outlet to reach people. I see myself being able to do that; but instead of writing about sports in an entertaining way, or data in a useful way, I’m writing about our individual capacity to create the world around us. My writing could help you change your perspective on something you personally create, rather than something you merely observe.
After I got hit with this surge of energy I got even more excited about the shift that was occurring within me. I knew that upon falling asleep that night I would temporarily release all the limitations of my physical perspective and awaken with a fresh opportunity to see my relationship with writing anew. It no longer had to be a struggle. I could focus in such a way that expressing myself on paper would no longer be a question of whether or not I could do it, but an inevitable result of knowing that I can.
My old focus could sometimes cause writing to feel like a tortuous task I could never complete. There were so many thoughts about how my writing reflected upon me and how my audience would perceive it. It reminds me of a video game I love playing and what happened when I started to play ranked games. Ranked games are designed to tell you how good you are. When you win or lose a ranked game, your rating rises or falls to tell the world you’re now better or worse than you were before. The more ranked games you play, the less each new ranked game matters because you’ve already become accustom with where you stand and know that it will take many matches with a different outcome to change your standing.
Sometimes I would lose a ranked game and through habit start to look for another one. There’d be just enough downtime before I could say yes to the new match for me to question whether or not I was still in a good enough mental place to start a new one. “Should I be playing ranked still or did that last loss drain me too much?” And I would just quietly say to myself. “These are ranked games. This is what I do. A non-ranked game would be meaningless for me to play right now because what I’m desiring is to develop my ability to thrive at this competitive level.” And then I’d redirect my energy toward winning the next match.
Now I feel like I can do this with writing. “I’m a writer; it’s what I do. If I experience adversity I can accept it and focus right back on what I’m wanting to do.”
I’m wanting to express myself. I’m wanting to share myself with you and ultimately create a space where you can share back. I want to start a dialogue around all these amazing things we could be talking about. This is a small step in that direction, but it adds up. The more I write, the less each piece of writing will seem to make or break me, because I’ll have already established myself through my body of work. So I can simply relax and enjoy the process of improving as a writer.
So it doesn’t really matter whether or not anyone reads this piece, or the next one, or the next one. It doesn’t really matter where I stand now any more than it matters what airport I catch my connecting flight at while finding my way home. What matters is where I’m going.
It doesn’t take years to decide to go somewhere different today, it just takes a decision. And I’ve decided to be a writer. To bring a voice to what’s inside me. To activate something inside of you. And to have a damn good time doing it.