The number of ideas I have for topics to write about every single day overwhelms me. Even though being a writer is one of my dearest wishes for my life, I am often too overwhelmed by ideas to even try a single sentence. Or, I will sneak in 30 minutes or an hour to write and I will choose one specific direction, I will write several pages, and I end up feeling frustrated that, with all of these ideas in my head, this one small piece is all that has come out of me.
This year, I am on a mission to understand what “enough” means. After a lifetime of doing and being “too much” most of the time, with small breaks of doing and being nothing at all, I realized that in almost every single corner of my life I have had no idea what “enough” even was. I started this exploration in the major areas of self-care: What is enough sleep? Enough water? Enough food? Enough movement? Then, I extended this inquiry to higher self-care: What is enough time with family? Enough connection to friends? Enough purpose in my work? Which brings me to… What is enough writing?
What I’m realizing is that knowing what “enough” is requires an understanding of expectations. For most of my life, I have set my expectations for myself unreasonably high, so high that they are utterly impossible to meet. Even the greatest of successes — and I’ve had my share — feels like failure.
So, just imagine how failure — which I have also had my share of — has felt!
But I won’t write if I am afraid of failing. I won’t write if I feel like I have to write everything all at once. I won’t write if I set my expectations so high that I could never meet them. I won’t write if I don’t learn to understand and feel what enough writing is. It’s okay to begin small. It’s okay to just follow one direction and see what happens. It’s okay if nothing happens.
My expectations for my writing are just to get as many of the ideas in my head out onto the page (or… screen) as possible. It actually doesn’t matter much whether the ideas — or the words — are good, useful, lead to anything publishable or noteworthy. If I am a writer, my job is just to write them. That’s enough.
About JodiAnn Stevenson
JodiAnn Stevenson lives in the U.S., in the Northwest Corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, on The Big Lake. Her writing has appeared in numerous venues since 1996. She is the author of three published chapbooks of poetry: The Procedure (March Street Press, 2006); Houses Don’t Float (Habernicht Press, 2010); and Diving Headlong Into A Cliff of Our Own Delusion (Saucebox, 2011). Her mixed-genre work Marina Abramovic Is My Mother is available in the form of a short-run podcast. She has also produced eight chapbooks of poetry for The Broken Nose Collective which she co-founded in 2013. JodiAnn was founder and co-managing editor of the feminist micro-press, Binge Press and its sister journal, 27 rue de fleures, from 2004 until 2017.
A (more or less) complete list of publications and appearances: