The I-Am-Useless Disease


(Another campus photo. I really can’t explain it. But that doesn’t mean you can steal it. So don’t.)

You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s so obscure that I’m the only one who’s ever heard of it. (PLEASE DON’T GO!!! T___T THIS IS NOT A BLOG WHERE I MAKE HIPSTER JOKES ALL THE TIME.) But I bet you know what it is anyway.

The I-Am-Useless Disease is widespread. It can affect anyone. If you’re a writer, then you’ve probably had a lot of run-ins with this particular illness.

It may come in the form of people telling you you’ll never make any money as a writer. It may come in the form of you telling yourself that. It may come from having a really awful writing day. It may even attack you suddenly, without reason.

Fear not, loyal readers! This disease can be combated. Make yourself feel useful. If you feel useless, then write more. If you’re constantly being productive, then you’re bound to hit gold somewhere.

And even if you don’t hit gold on something, then maybe you’ll learn something from what you’ve written. What are the running themes you see? How do they reflect upon your own life? What’s exactly not special about everything you’ve written lately? What’s good about each thing you’ve written? What’s the best piece? The worst? Why? What makes them that way? What have you learned from your massive amount of productivity? What does it feel like to do that much more writing than normal?

If you aren’t learning from your writing, then you might as well not bother. Writing is introspective. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about a hairless rabbit in a dark and scary forest that is out to get him (Is he paranoid, or is it really so?)–what you write reflects upon your deepest self. If you see themes of paranoia in your work, where do they come from? Look within yourself. If you don’t find something worth thinking about, then make it so. If your thoughts and inner self aren’t worth thinking about, then who on earth is going to care about your writing? It’ll just be vapid puddles of nonsense. Don’t waste your time or anyone else’s with that crap. (Unless you’re working on satire. If so, then carry on.)

If you feel useless, then don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Figure out why you feel that way and do something about it.

I’m not going to tell you that you’re a special snowflake who has mounds of talent and that even your diaries/LiveJournal posts from middle school should be published as a memoir. If you don’t have anything worth saying, then I don’t want to hear about it. If you don’t have anything worth saying, then why don’t you have something anyone else should hear about? Do something about it.

And if you’re sitting there feeling pretty high and mighty over never feeling useless, then just get over yourself. You’re not as special as you think you are. Writers have to work hard. Even you. If your writing is always effortless, then you’re either lying to yourself about it, or you’re not producing quality work every time. So what if you’ve written a thousand poems that you love? That doesn’t mean all of them are good quality.

Okay, so right now, I only know of a few people who read this blog as of writing this. And they’re nice people that are honest about their writing. And I commend them for that. But you, random person years down the road–I’m addressing you. I don’t know who you are or what/who brought you here. But I’m gonna be as honest as possible with you. I don’t know if you think you’re awful or the greatest thing since ramen. So I’m covering my bases.

But my thing is this: If you are any kind of decent human being, then you’ve probably felt like crap about yourself at some point in your life. This is what I’m talking about. There are a lot of people out there who don’t believe in themselves or their writing ability. If you are one of them, then please listen to me:

You aren’t going to feel any better about anything until you do something about it. Write a lot of stuff. Much of it will probably be awful. Then have people read it. What do they like or not like about it? Do their opinions really matter to you? Whatever you do, don’t accept cop-out responses like, “Oh, it was good.” Dig deep. What was good about it? Was there anything they didn’t like? FIND OUT. Don’t stop until you find your groove, what works for you, what makes you tick. If you’re not willing to put out the effort to do that, then quit writing. Just quit. Anything in life that you love that is wonderful is going to require effort and work. If you don’t wanna work to write, then work on something else. Don’t bother wasting your time writing some crappy poem you’ll never show to anyone.

If you want to be a writer, then write. There is no second option.

If you’d rather not write, then you don’t want to be a writer, do you? Go do something else. Mind you, that doesn’t make you useless. And you shouldn’t get the disease over this. It just means you have other things in your life that you want more. So go do them. Life is far too short to waste your time doing things you don’t particularly enjoy when there are other things you like better. So go do them.

There isn’t anyone in particular I’m addressing. Nobody inspired this post but myself and my own I-Am-Useless Disease. But as I was writing the above paragraph, I was suddenly reminded of this amazing thing I read pretty recently, so here it is: 

Drink it in. Marinade in it. Drift off in it. Does it speak to you? Why or why not?

Don’t ever stop asking questions. Ask yourself and everybody else why. Don’t stop until you get an answer. (I’m not talking about the childish version that I’m sure most of you are familiar with. I mean really getting to the bottom of something.)

Your assignment:

A. If you have The Disease, then spend some time writing about why you think you have it. Read over your previous writings and ask yourself the same questions was asking you to ask yourself earlier. I hope you follow. Also, ask yourself what you think might help you deal with the problem.

B. If you don’t have The Disease, then spend some time writing about a time when you did. What or who helped you get over it?

C. If you’ve never had The Disease, then imagine that you feel as though you cannot write as well as you once thought and write something from that perspective. Spend some time musing upon those feelings and figure out why you haven’t had them. Either feel grateful for it or get ready to pursue questioning everything and everyone about it. Don’t stop until you get the answers you seek.

Here’s another really early post–from the first couple of weeks of the blog.

This was back when I really hammered in the “cutting the crap” idea. I still strongly believe that you have to cut the crap and either write or don’t. Don’t beat around the bush. You’re either a writer, or you aren’t. And that’s all there is to it.

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