Starting From Scratch...Again
Why am I bringing this up? I'm writing again and finding that I have a lot of ideas I want to share, but the words don't seem to want to align correctly on the page. My phrasing seems off and everything feels stilted and stale. Where I used to feel confidence that my words would connect with people, now I find that I'm afraid they will embarrass or offend, or simply ring untrue. I read my old articles and they feel beyond my abilities, like reading some author I admire but will never equal.
I'm getting around this by reminding myself that I'm basically a beginner all over again. I will go through the same process of reeducating myself on how to write and practice writing everyday, as I did when I was first starting. I have set the bar pretty low: just write a little bit every day. Put words out there.
And hopefully, after a few months or years, this second starting will have me a little bit further along than I was, and I will have rediscovered my old passion all over again, maybe with a bit more appreciation of the work that went into it in the first place. In that, I have already learned not to take writing, or any kind of literacy whether that is linguistic, musical, mathematical, or physical, for granted.
Ease of expression in any field is often a hard-won ability and it can be easy to forget that when you've been doing it for so long. I have often been challenged to meet a student's frustrations in math or writing with patience and understanding when I see them struggling with a medium of expression I take for granted. There have even been moments when a student is struggling with a concept that is so fundamental from my perspective I can't even see their problem. All I see is a sticking point. I have become so far divorced from fundamentals that I can't even speak to them.
That challenge comes in cycles. I was a good tutor because I had to relearn math, then I got further from being a beginner. I was a good coach because I had gone from being weak to being strong, and I could relate to my students, then many of the early insights became crystallized. But then I'd go back; over the years, I've started and stopped repeatedly, or gone down different paths that forced me to revisit fundamentals all over again.
That's always kept me as a beginner, always open to new ideas and constantly malleable. I'm always learning, always feeling things out, always asking for help. And as a result, I'm always teaching.
Writing though...that's never been something I've walked away from for any length of time. Until now.
So, when I find myself struggling to match my own past writings, I can be humbled into compassion for anyone struggling to learn a new skill or come back to old passions, and that's certainly a new kind of learning.