The Pressure of Creation

by Gabriel Thomas ’24

There’s always so much pressure to write, in writing, in editing, in drafting. Pressure to “get it right,” pressure to produce something that’s worth reading or turning in, that communicates your ideas or your feelings or your intentions. It’s so much easier to just sit and think about how good a piece of writing could be, instead of actually writing it and realizing it doesn’t sound as good as you imagined. There’s comfort in the beginning—nothing has been said yet, no one can criticize, all ideas are good ideas. And it’s also hard to get in the groove, to start writing again, and again, and again, and again. There’s always so much pressure to create, and not just to create, but to create something worthwhile, something that actually matters. 

Often when I finish a paper, I’m nervous to start again. My inner monologue goes something like this: “How can my next paper be as good as my last? What happens when I don’t know what I’m talking about? What if I’ve used up all my good writing?” as if writing is a limited supply that we pour a little more out of each time we write. Like all of the writing we can ever do is essentially contained in a big jar, and every time we write we lose a little bit of that good writing. So then it’s hard to start the next paper or assignment or project. There’s just so much pressure. Living in the potentiality of a piece is so much easier. Because when we write, we ascribe ourselves to the value of what’s been written. In writing, we assert the value of the idea or statement. We claim something, we take a stand. This is certainly important and definitely good, but that doesn’t make it easy. How can we be sure that it’s actually good? That what we’re saying or writing is worth it? But that’s the trick. We will never know that. Living in the potentiality of a piece does no work. It’s easy because it’s worthless. Nothing worth much of anything comes easy. If writing well came easy, then everyone would have a Pulitzer and everyone would be a New York Times best seller. So we have to take that stand, we have to assert something, and trust that we’ll figure out how to make it matter along the way. 

And then, let’s say we do write something, a piece we’re proud of, a piece that makes us lean back and think “yeah that’s good.” We never get to relish this, or at least I feel like I never can. For me, it’s always “what’s next.” Never sitting with the beauty I’ve just created and appreciating it. I always feel the pressure to create the next piece, the next paper, the next project. And this can be incredibly draining. Sometimes I want to sit there and yell, “no look, this actually is worth something, why can’t we appreciate this before wondering what comes next?” But I never get an answer. And I never will. So I’m always back to square one, with one solution: write. 

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