yours, tiramisu

writing slump and imposter syndrome

I've been in a bit of a writing slump lately. The obvious culprit is that since I don't work or travel anymore, I don't have nearly as many things to write (read: complain) about anymore. This leaves me with two options, as far as I can tell. Either I can focus my attention on the more mundane things that happen in my life, or I can dig into the memory archives and write about things that happened a long time ago. Both of these require their own kinds of effort: the former requires careful noticing and framing on my part in order to be remotely interesting, and the latter more remembering and retelling.

A kind stranger emailed me the other day to suggest scheduling my writing at a fixed time everyday, which is a habit many of the greats used. It's a good suggestion, and one I should definitely implement if I want to push myself to improve. These days I've been waiting until enough thoughts percolate in my head before I sit down in front of the computer, and that's not the right way to do it. I shouldn't let myself be a captive of the fickle jailer that is inspiration; writers write, even when they don't necessarily feel like it.

Speaking of writing, my friend passed me a job that involves coaching writing (both creative and analytical) to students in middle and high school. I jumped at the opportunity, since teaching writers seems very much like something I'd enjoy, but the application stopped me in my happy tracks when it asked for both analytical and creative writing samples. I haven't written anything analytical since early high school (and who still has those essays laying around?), and I hardly have any creative writing samples (of those that I can find, I'm not terribly proud). I'm starting to realize that the kind of writing I do on this blog doesn't lend itself well to other forms of writing; churning out long wordvomits here every day won't help me write creatively or analytically, does it? (It'd be one thing if I tried to challenge myself and write outside of my comfort zone, but I haven't really done that yet.)

This blog also occupies a sort of strange space between public and private. Mine's certainly not very private, since many of my friends know of its existence, but it's not completely public either, given I wouldn't feel comfortable sharing it as a writing sample to any prospective employers. Sometimes I worry if this is the best use of my time. Shouldn't I be putting some of this work into a more visible repository I can use as a portfolio?

Regarding the job: for as much fun as I'd have teaching kids writing, especially creatively, I think I'd find it a bit difficult deciding what to tell them. I don't think I'd ever feel at a loss for suggestions; I have lots of writing beliefs accumulated from years of teachers and books, many of them very strong ones. But how do I know which of these to impart? There are so many ways to skin a cat, after all, and I'm afraid of molding a young impressionable writer into a writer I like, and not the best writer they can be, whatever that means. To make my imposter syndrome worse, one of the explicit goals of teaching creative writing with this institution is guiding these students to win scholastic writing awards. How can I feel equipped to do that when I haven't ever even applied to a contest like that, let alone won anything? (I know I don't have to be as good or talented a writer as they are to help them, but still!)

Upon meeting me yesterday, my friend remarked, "I would ask you how you're doing, but I already know since I've been reading your blog." I laughed, because of course she's right! What else is there for me to say that I've not already written? (The answer? Not very much.)

#english #journal #life #wordvomit #work #writing