Day 9 of #1000wordsofsummer 2020

Hi friends,

Today you will write 1000 words. Because this small act will give you a sense of accomplishment. The many imperfections of the world rage on outside the page, but inside of it, you can make one thing right.

This one thing I can finish, you tell yourself. This one thing I can do today. These words I will write. And I will feel a little more whole, more like myself. More complete. Because I have written.

A few days before #1000wordsofsummer began, a writer named Chloe Angyal tweeted that her husband had bought her a shiny hotel front desk bell to ring every time she got her word count. She said ringing it was, “intensely satisfying.” I could hear that bell so clearly.

One perfect ding. You did one thing right today. You wrote your words.

Today’s guest contributor is the incredible and hilarious Ariel Dumas, who is a head writer at “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Previously, she wrote at “The Colbert Report.”

“If you’re struggling with your writing, here’s a tip: the alphabet contains 26 letters. Just pick the ones you like best, then rearrange them until you’re satisfied with the results!

Ha-ha. Seriously, though. Writing can be difficult, but it’s worse when you’re riddled with self-doubt. How much self-doubt? When I wrote that first sentence, I googled ‘HOW MANY LETTERS ENGLISH ALPHABET’ just to confirm it was 26. Because that’s how little I trust myself.

And this is coming from someone who’s lucky enough to make her entire living writing. A pretty lucrative living! I can afford to support two entire cats! And yet when it comes to writing for myself, on my own projects - I am nearly paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy. 

Self-doubt is the structural damage that allows a million nasty little distractions to bore into your writing plans. Twitter. Texts. Chin hairs. The need for more coffee. The need to pee because of the coffee. The urge to nap (Naps™  - Craving death, but just a little? Then you’ll love Naps™). And worse - the convincing interior monologue that says, ‘Lol you big dumb baby your ideas are bad and YOU are bad.’

Happily, this all disappears when I’m on the clock, writing for work. Then, I am unstoppable. In order to do the job well in the time allotted, I can’t indulge in wallowing. I have to get up, strap myself in, hook up the tubes to my joke-ducts, and throw the switch on the great, wheezing suction pump that starts the flow of words. It’s exhilarating. It’s vastly different than writing on my own, because by compensating my efforts, my workplace automatically validates the writing I do for them. 

But here’s the thing: you can feel valid in your writing without this compensation system. And so can I. The process starts with something I picked up in therapy:

Give yourself the gift of taking yourself seriously. Your aspirations, your thoughts, your efforts. Even if it’s only for a couple hours, create a world where what you have to say is of the utmost importance. You will write, and it will matter. Your self-doubt can wait outside while you finish.

And that’s what #1000wordsofsummer is for. The hungry June word-beast demands to be fed, and you have no choice but to feed it. So grease up those nips, strap yourself to the milking machine, and let ‘er rip. Remember: you’re counting on you.”

Ariel asks that you consider donating here.

Write to the ding.