On returning to writing after a hiatus

Feb. 22, 2019, 1:00 a.m.

When I sat down to write this article, I realized that I’d actually forgotten how to write one. I know this sounds absurd coming from a seasoned writer, but in the adapted words of Ross Geller, “I was on a break!” It’s not that I’ve stopped writing altogether for the last several months; I’ve published articles here and there and written a few short stories and poems. However, I’ve spent the majority of my time as the managing editor of the Grind — I spent at least a dozen hours per week taking out Oxford commas from my writers’ articles and refreshing WordPress every two minutes when uploading them.

I originally chose to put aside my writing (other than assignments for class) because I wanted to focus on my new editing job. In addition to my new Daily position, I also edited application essays for a Beijing-based consulting company, which took up an additional 20 hours every week. By the end of January, I was revising wordy sentences in my sleep. The process of fixing grammar mistakes was both relaxing and exhausting, like doing laundry or cleaning my room. It became a monotonous routine that I started to dislike because I was focusing on it too much. I wasn’t producing anything of my own.

And yet, it’s been almost three weeks since I’ve finished both editing jobs, and this is the first piece I’ve attempted to write. This article isn’t sarcastic or descriptive or insightful like I wanted my comeback article to be. As I type out sentence by sentence, I cringe at my lack of inspiration and drive to finish it. I’m embarrassingly rusty, and I’m learning to accept that. Writing is just like anything else that needs practice. While I haven’t forgotten mechanics or how to write an intriguing lede, I’ve forgotten how to produce a first draft without judging myself, how to put away the critical voice that freezes my fingers on the keyboard.

After five months of hardly writing, I need to relearn that mindset, and I know it’s going to take time and intense practice. With that, I’m publicly declaring my writing hiatus over. I will commit to writing every day, whether it’s a few sentences or several pages. And I promise, my next article on my first experience at SoulCycle will be more entertaining. I can only improve from here (hopefully).


Send Emily Schmidt a daily writing reminder at at egs1997 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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