I don't write easily, but I still write

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I recently discovered Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, after a friend shared some of his work on Facebook. 

After listening to a beautiful interview he gave about radical hope being our only weapon against injustice, I searched the internet to find out more about him. 

The first video I found of him he talked about his writing process. He said: 

"I don't write easily, I don't write quickly, and I'm pretty lazy".

He talked about how he dreamed of greater productivity; that 3 books in 17 years wasn't quite what he had in mind when he started out.

Can I just tell you how those words made me feel like less of a slacker? When I heard him speak the truth about his process (and be ok with it), I knew that it was safe to speak mine. 

To hear someone so brilliant and thoughtful admit to struggling with his writing was comforting. I could release some of the pressure I've placed on myself for the past 3 years. 

"I don't write easily, I don't write quickly, and I'm pretty lazy".

Mr. Diaz, I hear you AND I see myself in your words. 

I don't write easily. Sometimes writing is painful, which is why I avoid it. There are times when I'd rather scrub my toilets with a toothbrush before I face my keyboard. The only time writing IS easy is when I'm writing about how hard it is.

I don't write quickly. My best pieces have taken months to write. I can sit down in 20 minutes and churn out 700-800 words but they're not all publishable. I have to edit, think, rethink, overthink then re-write, and walk away...then go through that cycle at least 2 more times before I hit publish.

And yes, sometimes I'm pretty lazy. I would much rather watch a Murder, She Wrote marathon or scroll through Facebook for hours. This time could be spent writing one of the many books and screenplays I plan to write, but...

Despite knowing these things about myself, I've constantly wanted my process to be different, which made the process even harder. So now, I'm working to find the balance between cultivating practices that help me become more productive while honoring the way I create. 

I know it's a part of my process to be scared to put words on a page. It's part of my process to clean my bathrooms instead of putting my butt in a chair and letting the words flow. I could (probably) change it. But I'm working with it for now. Some folks may say I'm settling or slacking. There may be some truth in that...I'm cool with it.

The act of knowing and accepting myself is a gift.

I know I can't consistently churn out thoughtful essays like Ijeoma Oluo in 90 minutes or 5,000 words in an afternoon like my friend Cindy Callaghan can, I may not even be able to write 3 books in 17 years like Junot Diaz

But I can do what Melissa Toler can do. And everyday it may be different. Either way, I'll still write.


P.S. I love writing about writing. I also use writing to free myself from the culture's toxic messages so I can hear my own voice. 

If either (or both) of these things sound good to you, join us for the next Write To Get Free course in 2018: