Writer to Writer: When the Sting Is Gone

It’s finally the weekend, Saturday night in particular, and you’re sitting down for a much-needed writing session after a long week of work. You get comfortable, sit on your couch or bed with a cup of tea (or a bottle of Crown if the week has been hell), and silence your phone. You pray that your friends don’t need bail money or that your mother hasn’t started thinking that you’ve dropped off of the face of the earth and decided to leave you 15 angry voicemails that you’ll only feel conflicted to listen to in a few hours. You open your journal or your laptop, prepping yourself for the blank page and put your pen (or keyboard) to work, in good spirits… until you finish.

Upon completing your newly created poem, book chapter, or scene for your primetime Portuguese novella pilot pitch, you read over it. Carefully, but objectively, you review your work and can’t help feel like something is missing. Just great. Confused, you reread, thinking maybe you’re just tired or out of practice. The writing is notably yours, matching in style and context, but still missing a certain fire that you’re used to, some weight.

It’s good, but the sting is gone. You start wondering if you even still have the gift, if you’ve started to be washed up. If you’re as picky as I am or now currently in a funk thinking that you’ve peaked early, breathe. Step away from the Crown Royal. You don’t have to go on a pilgrimage to the holy land where the high priests of good writing will guide you back to your “former” glory. You haven’t lost it. What you may be experiencing though is a transition to a new period in your artistry.

As a performer and a formerly heartbroken poet used to writing witty quips and sickening one-liners, I had to learn not to fret if every line wasn’t as hard or as heavy. Thinking back to conversations between my best friend (a fellow poet) and I on this topic, one thing that he constantly tells me is that every session isn’t the same and isn’t meant to be. In the same manner, an artist, across time, isn’t meant to be either. Though still young, having been a writer or some sort of storyteller for a while, I’ve learned that it, like any other form of art, is expressive and is reflective of its ever-changing creator.

We’re not always the bard pouring out our hearts in big love ballads. We’re not always the fiery lyricists prepping a verse or the spoken word artists with just the right amount of shade to make an audience scream Yaaaasssssss and that’s okay. Sometimes, we’re not going through anything. We’re not breaking up with someone, woe isn’t us and the weight of the world isn’t on our shoulders. Sometimes, we’re just content, at peace or maybe even happy. In early moments like these, I used to cling to the hurt. I wanted to be upset because the art I longed to create seemed more potent. But, as time went on, I realized that I couldn’t always be there. It wasn’t good for my emotional or mental well-being. I was lighter and I learned to be okay with that. So what if you’re not crying while you’re writing? We don’t always have to suffer for our art.

We can be just alright. We can be happy and still create. Enjoy that moment. Soak up the good vibes. Be at peace. Write as the spirit cries, even when it’s not as dark as you’re used to. As my friend says, “Sometimes the pen is heavy. Sometimes it floats. Whichever it is that day, let it be.”

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