On the Cop-Out of Creative Anxiety

Words from the Road started out as a way for me to get my feet wet in the world of travel writing. I’d just joined Matador Network’s “MatadorU” writing program, and I was getting some positive reviews and really great constructive criticism on how I could get better in this field. I never finished the program.

Somewhere along the way I started getting requests for submissions. Posts, like this one about getting by in Japan with a thin wallet, had reps from a few different travel sites asking for a slightly different take on the subject for publication. I started each new riff on the topic with a lot of excitement for my opportunities. Deadlines were missed without explanation. Slowly but surely, requests for articles slowed to a trickle before the ground around me cracked with drought. This blog, likewise, turned into a derelict, rarely taken care of but for when the mood randomly struck me once or twice a month. Sensing a trend?

Words from the Road: Madrid to Barcelona morphed into Kyoto to Tokyo by necessity, and that’s fine. Even that, the most ambitious project with many supporters waiting for its completion, remains incomplete, though it’s actually quite far along. More on that in the coming weeks.

I didn’t want to think about neglecting the blog, effectively ignoring my dream to be a known, successful travel writer. Why? I developed this sense that I had nothing interesting to say. I tricked myself, through laziness, into thinking I was afraid of my own voice.

Here’s the thing: that’s a huge load of shit.

My best friend, whom you may know as the Beardless Farmer, asked me if I was blogging. I explained my predicament. He responded, simply, “That seems like kind of a cop-out.”

It wasn’t as though he said something I didn’t already realize. I knew for the longest time that it wasn’t fear or lack of ability that kept me from trying. Rather, the would-be artist’s trap of waiting for inspiration to strike kept me away from the page. Talent, skill, whatever — none of it means anything without discipline. If I don’t push myself to sit down and write, whether it’s a paragraph or a novel, there is nothing to the dream but a bit of smoky regret.

It’s something I learned the hard way with my fledgling YouTube channel. I’ve been at that since September 2014, producing 106 videos and gaining almost 300 subscribers; the channel is just a hobby, and I’ve put more time and effort into it than my real passion.

I’m not going to promise this blog is going to suddenly turn around and get three or four new pieces per week. I am going to take a page from my YouTube efforts and commit to a new post every week, though, and go from there. Here’s to greatness from small — and admittedly self-defeating — beginnings.

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