What have I done? Did I really just do that?
“What?” you ask. It’s a reasonable question, given the levity I attributed to the statements above. Realistically, what was done was practically simple and stupid. I unsubscribed to all the writing podcasts I listen to.
At first, it seemed like a foolish idea. Even still, it seems like it is something stupid. But hear me out. They were a distraction. Sure, there were plenty of things that I could learn from them, but all in all, I found in the end they were more harmful to my habits than they were helpful. Blame for the situation resides in me as they were each high-quality podcasts. One focused more on the craft and the other two more on the business. In either case, what resulted wasn’t inspiration to do better, rather they all seemed to serve to confirm my own belief that I am not good enough. And you know what: I should have the monopoly on that for myself.
Right up to hitting the unsubscribe button though, doubts reared in my head as to whether it was the right choice. I mean, aren’t I learning through stoicism that it is my choice to feel that way? Hence why I say the blame for it rests on me. And maybe I could make that change. By why waste the energy?
These podcasts were for learning to manage the craft and the business though, right? Do I really think it wise to dump them off when I know so little?
I also think of it this way: has anything in my writing life improved any since listening to any of them? The short answer is fuck no. If anything, I started second guessing every step I take. Every writing decision. That’s not to say that any decision I make is right vs wrong, but at least make a goddamn decision and move forward. Instead, I keep finding myself stuck in a doom-loop, unable to stop. These podcasts weren’t the problem, but they surprisingly — without my seeing it clearly at first — only fed my doubt. Additionally, listening to all these other writers talk about how they are super successful, only reinforces the impostor syndrome issue. Of course they deserved success, but not me.
I needed to step away.
Being blind in a way will help me forge ahead. I need to relearn who I am as a writer away from other writers. Not because that’s is the right way to go about this whole thing, but because it seems the right way for me.
And this isn’t to say that I don’t do anything that will influence my writing. I read. A lot more lately than I ever had since mandating a minimum reading threshold every morning. I can tell what writing I enjoy and which I think is bland or junk. Not because someone else tells me. For instance, I read Stephen King’s On Writing and it was just okay. Meanwhile, Chuck Palahniuk’s Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different knocked me on my ass.
Hearing from other writers, On Writing was the must-read book about writing. Well, I read it and it didn’t do much for me. In a way, as I kept hearing it, I thought that there must be something wrong with me. Did I miss something? Rather than listen to the few people who panned Stephen King saying that they weren’t impressed, I listened to the former and in turn looked poorly into my own writing because of some superficial thing.
To say that I consider myself a solid writer would be an overstatement. No one who has impostor syndrome thinks that highly of themselves. But there is a bit of ego at play. There has to be. Why else would I think it worth writing? Self-inflicted punishment, maybe. An inexplicable internal drive to write is there too. But why publish or believe I can make this a career if not for a little ego — that little belief that others will want to read something I created? I have to believe I am good enough then, right?
Regardless, it shouldn’t matter. What should matter is that I find a way to forge ahead, to continue trying. Whether that trying means failure or success, the goal is to keep going, to keep writing. These podcasts weren’t helping me do that.
Yes, it is my own anxiety that is the problem. Yes, it is how I internalized them. But if I really keep having trouble separating it, wouldn’t it be in my best interest to turn it off? So I did.