Is chickenscratch really helpful?

Oh hey! It’s the first post to this site in nearly a year!

I started to write about why I don’t keep this site updated (OMG, yawn!) but then realized I was writing an even-whinier version of this post from 2015. So not only boring, but repetitively boring. So enough of that.

Just before my birthday this year, I told myself that I was going to make more of an effort to write. Online, offline, whatever. Just needed to write more. I have so much I want to say and I need to get it out. But first I need to get it untangled. Or I need to emotionally un-constipate myself. Or something. My birthday was at the end of August and it’s taken me nearly six weeks to get to a place where I feel like I can express myself. So here I am.

In mid-September, I signed myself up for some daily writing prompts. Just random topics for free-writing for a minimum of ten minutes a day. To build a writing practice. To loosen up. To play. And I’ve used exactly one of those prompts. They’re interesting prompts, so that’s not the problem. I just put them aside and think ‘when I have the time, I will write’. Then I never make the time. These prompts recommend longhand writing in a journal and I hate it. I found a nice journal and carried it in my work backpack to sneak in some time during my day: whether on my commute or during the work day itself (during lunch of course).Β And that has been a huge fail. I don’t feel right taking that time while I’m at work, and I can’t get physically comfortable enough during my commute. Then there’s Β the longhand writing itself. I write fast and hard, and it either becomes tiresome on my hand or completely illegible. Often both at the same time. I know the point of these free-writing exercises isn’t to read or even remember the writing, but just to write. The one day I did do it (at the end of my lunch break at work, I wrote like I was on fire, and thingsΒ devolved so quickly into worse-than-chickenscratch that I felt ashamed. Then the cycle of Not Writing began again.

So longhand evangelists: why is completing writing exercises in longhand so beneficial? Does it really help a writer’s growth?Β Is there any hope for me if I’m so terrible at it?

How do you restart your writing practice?

I’ve lost confidence in myself as a writer and I need help.

I haven’t written anything of substance in months. Work-related emails don’t count no matter how detailed and thorough they are. I get an idea for this site and I quit before I’ve even started: my brain turns to mush and I can’t seem to string a sentence together. I haven’t been making – or taking – the time to write anything. I think about journaling and my eyes get so tired all I want to do is nap.

Is this normal writer’s procrastination, or is it a sign that I should just give up?

I don’t want to give up. I know I need to stretch myself to get going again. And stop listening to the defeated voice in my head that tells me that I’m just not Good Enough to share my thoughts with the world. Because everyone is Good Enough to share their thoughts and the web is the equalizer that allows all of us to do so.

What do you do when you’ve lost confidence in your skills and it’s time to build them back up? These tips could be for any skill: writing, running, chainsaw juggling. I’m very open to your suggestions.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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