Monday, January 27, 2014

Art Makes Us Vulnerable

For a class this week, I had to write about my experiences as a writer. I talked about the different kinds of writing I do, how I started, and why I continue.

I mentioned in my essay that writing still makes me self-conscious, but I didn't think much of it when I wrote it. My professor responded, asking why if I've generally gotten positive feedback on my writing, why would it still make me self-conscious?

I think her question gets at a universal truth. It could just be me, but I think any kind of creative work lends itself to that feeling of self-consciousness. If you're an artist showing someone your drawing, you're nervous. If you're a musician playing someone your new song, you're nervous. Every time I write a blog post, or an article, or a short story, I'm nervous.

It has nothing to do with whether or not you think you're good at what it is you've chosen to do: obviously if I thought I was garbage at writing, I probably wouldn't write as much as I do. But art is an intensely personal thing, and even if it's light, fluffy, comedic writing, I still want people to like it, because it's a part of me. The words I choose are a part of my consciousness, and they're unique to me.

So as much as self-consciousness generally carries a negative connotation, I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing when it comes to my writing. In writing, or painting, or playing an instrument- whatever the case may be- you are literally creating something that wasn't there before. It's amazing, and exciting, and it's normal if the idea of other people seeing what you created makes you nervous. Just don't let it stop you from creating, and from showing people what you created. Some people will like it, some won't, and the vulnerability will be good for you. It's scary, but it's character building.
I'll probably always be self-conscious showing people what I've written. I could be a best-selling author, showrunner on my own TV show, whatever- I'm still going to want people to like what I've written. It's normal. And it's part of why I like writing so much- I like to make people laugh, and I like to make people think. So as long as I occasionally do that, the self-consciousness can stay. It keeps me on my toes.

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