I stare at the page before me. It’s taunting me, isn’t it?
“You can’t do this.”
“You’re not a writer.”
“You’re nothing more than a fraud.”
It’s a Monday morning, and I’m committed to posting tomorrow. But the words won’t flow. I can’t get further than a few sentences before stopping. My ideas seem weak and worthless.
Nor is it the only time I’ve faced these doubts. In the last several weeks, none of my writing seemed any good. Why did I even bothered posting it?
Is the voice inside my head right? Should I just give up?
Maybe I need a change of scenery. I walk outside and toward the library. The sky is cloudy. A wall of gray hides away the sun.
the high canopy
of dull and lifeless grayscale
blocks hopeful sunlight
At the library, I take a seat near the window. The waves crash against the rocks outside. Pulling out my computer, I reread everything I’ve written so far. A handful of half-starts to various thoughts and ideas litter the page. I don’t feel like using any of them. So I start over.
Ten minutes pass. Twenty minutes pass. Half an hour passes.
My writing still feels jumbled. The sentences don’t line up. They’re as rough as the crashing waves below.
broken on the rocks
the glass bottle no longer
protects the message
This isn’t working. I pack my bag and return home.
I collapse in the rocking chair and stare at the ceiling fan. I’m weary. I have no fight left in me.
My wife sits with me as I complain about the situation. “I just want to give up,” I tell her.
She listens to my story. And then she asks a question. She forces me to decide.
“Do you want to just skip this week?”
Every endeavor worth doing has a time – a time you’ll get stuck and lose sight of the way forward. Your art, practice, or quest will throw up an obstacle that seems invincible. You’ll doubt yourself. You’ll want to give up.
Maybe you’re frustrated with what seems a lack of progress. You should be able to succeed, but no matter what you do, you can’t seem to build momentum.
Maybe you can’t figure master a technique or skill. You’ve tried and tried, but you can’t get it right.
Maybe you feel alone.
Whatever the challenge, whatever the circumstances, you will have to choose.
You can persevere, or you can abandon everything you’ve built so far. You can embrace the struggle, or you can suffer beneath it.
The voice tells me to give in:
“You shouldn’t be writing. You aren’t any good.”
“You’re an impostor. Everyone will find you out.”
“Abandon the Bright Army. It’s not going anywhere.”
As much as I want to listen to the voice, as much as I want to skip this week and all the weeks after, I’m unwilling to quit.
So I choose to write. I choose to keep moving.
The post isn’t any easier. I still labor though each paragraph. But I’m committed. I push through and finish it.
Your practice, your service to others, and your life are not defined by the good or easy days. They’re defined by the moments you’re on the edge of despair – when giving up is the easy option. They’re defined by your choice to continue.
When you feel stuck, take a step. It doesn’t matter how big or in what direction.
When you struggle to learn a skill, keep practicing. You’re probably closer than you think.
When you feel alone, seek the company of friends, family, and peers.
The choice to persevere is never easy. It won’t be comfortable. But it’s worth it.
The weeks and months following bring their share of difficulty. But I made my decision, and I keep at it. Slowly, ever so slowly, I build my momentum.
I start taking ownership of my craft. I identify with my work as a storyteller.
My posts, although not easier to write, get stronger. I’m even proud of a few of them.
And when I have rough days, and I still do have rough days, I remember my choice to keep going. I draw strength from it. I can overcome the challenges before me.
storms and winter’s chill
against them the tree chooses
to rise to the sky