Did you know I’m fluent in French? I am. Well, I used to be. Now I’m very rusty because I don’t practice much at all and whenever I get a chance to chat with someone in that beautiful language I can never seem to find my rhythm because I’m just so aware of how I sound.
The harder I think about it, the harder it gets to conjugate the verbs quickly, to wrap my lips around the word in the right way.
I was chatting with my French “mom” recently, who hosted me years ago when I studied abroad in college. The harder I tried to get the words out, the more I froze. I thought too hard about how poorly I was speaking, how hard it was to connect. She listened patiently, not showing that I was basically babbling incoherently, and helped me find the right words.
Finally, I relaxed enough that I stopped thinking about what I was trying to say and just said it. Not perfectly, but not haltingly either.
Writing is like that. The harder we try to make something good, the more scrambled it can become. When we put too much pressure on something, it freezes. That doesn’t mean it won’t turn into a diamond, but it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. So why not try less?
Let yourself relax into your writing. When you take the pressure off yourself you might just surprise yourself with how much — and what — you write.