I have always struggled with writing.

I remember the essays in high school and the trauma caused by my inability to write more than a page and a half and then having nothing left to think, say, write. It took a gargantuan effort to squeeze every single sentence out of my brain, and I think it was solely thanks to my grit and unwillingness to get a bad grade, that I managed to keep writing. I really had nothing to say about The Relationship Between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan or anything similar. At the time, I was much more interested in computers, cello, and hanging out with my friends on IRC.

Still, I felt a need to express myself. My high school friend and I started the most melancholic high school band ever. While the end product didn’t sound particularly great, most of those tunes still lead me to re-experience some of the feelings I had as a teenager, with some additional saudade on top of them.

No human being can escape some form of self-expression.

Last year, I took my family to Taizé, France for a week. Outside the official program, we had hours of free family time every day, and after a few days of not doing much, my brain started to become itchy. I was really angry at myself for not bringing my guitar, which would normally help me scratch the itch. So, my brain started looking for alternatives. It took me a few days to become aware of what I started doing without even realizing—finding and solving problems. Problems, as in new business opportunities. I couldn’t help myself brainstorming about a business plan for a toy that I thought would be cool to build. Kids loved the idea, and even though my wife pretended to be supportive, I could feel her eyes rolling and thinking something like: “Can’t you just chill out and be bored, for once?!”

Jakob and I brainstorming on our new toy business idea.

My point is—after my basic needs like sleep and a decent amount of silence (for my introverted soul) were met, I could not not be creative. I think entrepreneurial creativity is also a form of self-expression.

But what does that have to do with writing?

From time to time, over the past decade or so, especially during itchy-brain periods, I often felt a strong need to express my thoughts in writing. Not only to express them and have them written down but to converse with the world. I am deeply curious about what my thoughts mean to and provoke in other people.

When I was a kid, too small to go fishing with my dad, I’d play “fishing in a barrel” with my friends. There was an old 35″ iron barrel in our backyard, often full of rainwater. We’d throw in a few leaves and grass blades, “borrow” some nylon line and a fishing hook from my dad, and start “fishing”. I remember the excitement so vividly—we were too small to look into the barrel, so you had no idea if and when a fish would “take” the bait.

I remember the feeling of never being sure that there are no actual fish in the barrel… there was always hope. (Photo by Pavel Polyansky, Shutterstock)

Fishing is like building something, putting it on the market, and waiting for a sale. I get utterly excited about such unpredictable situations, where the end result depends on others. This is why I love fishing, sales, and this is what I like about writing too. You write something, you put it out there, and then see what happens.

But I feel I’m so bad at even attempting writing.

While driving, I would often get all these great ideas and I would imagine wrapping them in a nice post and solicit feedback from friends and strangers. This is how it typically goes:

"It would be great to get some feedback on this! I really need to start putting together a list of things I finally want to start blogging about.”

After 10 seconds:

“But am I really, actually going to do it, and start a blog? After all these years of just daydreaming about it? I’ve tried it before, but It’s just too much work. I need hours just to write a single post. How can I possibly make all those hours?”

After 10 seconds:

“But it’s a really good idea, at least I need to write a blurb on Facebook about it and validate the essence of the idea, befoređ writing a longer post about it. Yeah, that’d be great, that I could definitely do.”

After 10 seconds:

“OK, so who’s going to be the audience for this idea, and what value exactly am I going to provide to my readers? If there’s no value, people are not going to read it, and even if they do, they’ll feel tricked after reading it. Hmm, I'm not really sure how much tangible value I can give to any audience with this idea…”

After 10 seconds:

“If I want to honestly write about this, I can already see how person X is not going to understand what I'm saying, without explaining all the necessary context. In fact, person X is probably going to get offended and will think shit about me. So this whole thing will not end up being something constructive but rather destructive, which is what I want to avoid at all costs.”

After 10 seconds:

“Also, there must be many other people out there who had a similar idea, and probably thought about it more and wrote about it better than I ever could. So why bother? I don’t want to write about ideas with holes in them. And if I want to ensure accuracy, I basically need to write a research paper on whatever stupid idea I want to write about.”

After another 5 minutes of all kinds of thoughts about me writing about this idea:

Looks like this doesn’t really make sense, obviously there’s a reason why I’ll never be a writer, blogger, or even a prolific Facebook or Twitter influencer. I’ll just keep watching Netflix, that’s much easier.”

I’ve had countless episodes like this. I like the idea of writing, but I really suck at actually writing anything.

But then I thought—perhaps this struggle is an example of what I actually could write about. It’s in the spirit of true self-expression. I just have to let it go, and not stress about the value, accuracy or anything else.

So this is my most sincere attempt so far to write down my thoughts. Let’s see what happens. Fishing time!

  1. Firstly I am very envious that you went to Taize!

    Second whatever you write, I love hearing about your family and your family life!

    Third there are lots of creative things I would like to do. I love sketching for example. But I will always find “more important” things to do. I think that as humans we (mostly subconsciously) have a hierarchy of priorities (could do a whole study on how it meshes with Maskow’s hierarchy of needs!) which essentially govern what we make time for. We always for example find time for Mass. Rugby, karate, ballet, cricket are on a level below that. I have never made a conscious decision but sketching, painting and writing are somewhat further down my priorities…. truth be told sadly they are below cleaning.
    Maybe I need a Mary heart in a Martha world ( tell your lovely wife that there is a book with this title that I think she’d love!)
    Love to all of you.

    1. Hi Anna, good to hear from you! Ahh, why is cleaning so important to us all? 🙂 It’s also high on my priority hierarchy, even though it’s so mundane. I’ll definitely tell Mica about the book, and I encourage you to finally start sketching. I think it’s not just about priorities, I think it may be about some deep inner fears too… at least that’s my experience. I’ve watched too many Netflix series over the past few years to be able to say I don’t have the time. 🙂

  2. Uau, Nejc! You did it! Congratulations! I think it’s so precious to be able to make this first step. I’m constantly thinking of how good it can be to put down my thoughts as well. Writing was kind of mode of survival for me in difficult years of growing up and finding my path afterwards. I was writing mostly poems. I find it so relieving, you feel just better.
    Yesterday in the evening I also wrote a blog on why I love cycling so much. It must have been a special evening yesterday. 😜
    Keep writing, you’ll definitely get feedback!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *