I used to love writing. Poems, short stories, journaling. I wrote lots and lots and lots. I'm not sure when this happened, and I think it was a gradual thing, but I don't write anymore.
It's funny looking back on it: When I was growing up, I always saw music as my creative outlet. I definitely had moments of release when I was playing the piano or clarinet, but I never felt creative when I was making music. With music, I became technically proficient and even deeply expressive player, but I was always playing someone else's music. There was always someone who had played the same exact thing I was playing, but better. I was always very conscious of the fact that no matter how good of a classical musician I became, there would always be a million people out there better than I was.
I guess the same could be said for writing. I know that no matter how good of a writer I become, there will always be someone better than I am. But for some reason, that doesn't bother me about writing. When I write, I write for me. Sure, I'd like to get my point across. I'd like for someone to read my writing and be moved by my words. But the writing itself, the process of putting words to thoughts, is something magical to me. It's therapeutic and invigorating. Every time I write, I'm creating something new. The combination of words I use is unique. Even if it's not terribly exciting or well-written, it is unique.
Writing is the one thing I have ever done where I didn't worry about being perfect. Sure, when I wrote things that I wanted people to read, I edited and re-edited and worked long hours to polish. The difference is, that with writing, I'm not afraid to be less than perfect. And I think that is a huge advantage for my writing. There have been so many things that I've quit, or self-sabotaged, or not even tried doing because I was too much of a perfectionist. I do think I am a very talented person. That may sound stuck up, but it's true. But my awareness of my talents and my intelligence sometimes paralyzes me. Knowing I am smart makes it so much worse when I fail to perform intellectually. I feel defeated and unworthy and I hate myself. I have been critical of my writing in the past, but a less than perfectly written piece doesn't make me hate myself. I guess the point is that I think my expectation of greatness from myself is one of my biggest handicaps. I get praised for the things I have accomplished, yet I never feel like I have truly accomplished anything. I know I am capable of so much more, yet I am terrified of trying and failing. To think of it, I don't know that I have ever given anything 100%. To me, I'd trade in all the intelligence and talent in the world to be gutsy, to go balls to the wall, to not be afraid to (in the words of Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus) take chances, make mistakes and get messy.
I think the key to changing all of that has to be in writing.
That all being said... I'm setting a new goal for myself. I would really like to write every day. Journaling, short story writing, poetry... whatever. Every day, I'm going to sit down and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be). And you know what else? I'm going to publish my writings. Even if it's only on a blog. I'm going to take the raw material and edit it and post it and try to get feedback on my work. Maybe after a while of doing that, I'll even start submitting some of it to be published. Who knows? All I know is that I love writing and I'm going to start doing a lot more of it.