Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

“Write No Matter What” is Not Helpful Writing Advice

Every article, essay, series, or book about writing will implore you to keep writing, even if what you’re creating is shitty. I get it, it makes sense. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Writing is a habit.


But here’s my weird truth about that. I seldom think my writing is shitty. Why? I don’t write when I’m feeling shitty or my writing is turning out shitty. If my head isn’t clear or I’m not inspired to write, I don’t write.


A turtle writing in a journal by autistic art therapist Jackie Schuld
"Happily Writing" Illustration by Jackie Schuld

This runs counter to everything writing experts implore you to do. I’m breaking the cardinal rule of writing no matter what.


And yet, in the past 302 days, I’ve written 365 essays.


So how do I keep writing if I’m not willing to write shitty things?


Well first, I set aside time when my mind is most alive and excited to pour out ideas. For me, that happens first thing in the morning. I protect and guard that time. If I’m extra excited, I can crank out two essays.


Second, I’m always nourishing my mind with fodder for writing. I don’t live my life so that I can find more writing content, it just naturally happens that way. I’m a therapist, so I get to hear some pretty interesting things and be a part of daily deep conversations. I’m also an avid reader of non-fiction. Furthermore, many of my friends are the deep-thinking type and we love to have conversations about the things that matter to us in the world. If you add all of the tv series I watch to that, there always seems to be something for my mind to write about.


I also have a secret weapon: I’ve been dating. Dating always provides more writing material. Sometimes it’s things that make me angry, sometimes it’s interesting ways of looking at things. I seldom write about my actual dates (ok, I’ve done that), but usually my date conversations just inspire me to write about related topics.


Third, I have lots to say on the three key topics I care about: mental health, my private practice and autism. I jumped into my therapy private practice directly after graduating and have learned a great deal in the process. I love writing about my experiences and providing insight for other therapists. This also naturally leads into many essays about mental health.


I also recently learned I’m autistic. It’s a life changing experience to learn you’re autistic, and so I’ve been breaking that down in essays. I now also work with late-identified autistics in my therapy practice, and our conversations are always inspiring me to write and explore more about autism.


So given there is so much for me to write about, I want to write when I am in a state of clear headedness and excitement. I don’t want my good ideas to go to rot. Furthermore, since I’m just writing short essays, I know it will be easy to pick back up writing the next day.


I also feel this process honors my autistic mind. It is not helpful to force my mind into a place it doesn’t want to go. If it wants rest, that is the best thing to give it. If it’s excited to write, I try to make the space and time for it to pour out. Now, some of that may come out unintentionally shitty, but I stand by that shit.

 

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