"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Overcoming Expectations

Writing was so much easier when I was younger. That's what I caught myself thinking the other day. I suppose there was some truth in that statement, but the more I thought about it, the more it felt...wrong. Because, while writing may have felt easy when I was younger, it wasn't any more or less difficult than it is now.  My expectations were just lower. In fact, I didn't have any expectations. I wrote because it was fun.

It seems that as we get older we loose that blissful freedom to write without expectation. Instead, we are suddenly bombarded by outside pressures. First, it's the pressure to be something. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I've also always known it would take work, that I'd have to struggle to become who I wanted to be, just like everybody else. But sometimes it feels like I'm cheating. I mean, in essence, I can do what I've always wanted to right now. I don't have to wait until I've graduated from college, or landed a job in  my desired profession. I can be a writer right now.

So why does it feel like I still have so far to go? The answer? Expectation. When you've done something your whole life, you're expected to improve. And if you work diligently at it, you do. That's pretty much an established fact. However, you can't judge yourself based on this fact, because most likely you will feel like you haven't improved enough, not matter how far you've come. I've been playing piano since the fourth grade, but there are times when I'll look at a new piece and feel like a novice again, my fingers fumbling clumsily for the correct notes. It's times like these when it's most important to remember what it was like to be a kid. Think about why you wanted to be a writer (or a musician) in the first place. Embrace the joy of simply creating, and not caring if your dialogue is lame-sounding or if you still can't get the timing on that musical phrase to sound right. That's okay. Because art is not about what you or anyone else expects. It's about making something that speaks to you, and that you enjoy making. Make art for yourself, trust that you will always improve, and try not to think about what's expected of you.

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