Writing anyway

Replied to Creative Voices by James (

One such topic I would like to write about but have not yet is on balancing ambition and one’s every day life. I haven’t written about this because I wonder: what unique perspectives do I have to share on this topic? I believe I have something to say, but I wonder whether, in the sea of other pieces of writing in similar veins, my writing is significant enough.

The best way, I find, is just to write and see what comes out.

I’m with you, doing the writing helps you think through things and is so worthwhile — and you can always just not publish it 🤷‍♀️ I write a lot of fiction as well, and have come to the conclusion that uniqueness is overrated, since every storyteller brings their own approach. I think that’s the case too with non-fiction writing, and believe enthusiasm adds a lot of value to a piece of writing. Building on and revisiting existing ideas is also helpful — that’s how science works for testing hypotheses –results must be replicable, and need to be for a conclusion to gain more evidence and validity — why not also for exploring the value of existing ideas?

I do share your desire to contribute meaningfully to “the conversation,” but I still think it’s worth doing the writing at whatever stage of thought since it is so closely tied to thinking — even if what I have to say about something now is not particularly insightful, as I write more I’ll work my way farther into fruitful ideas. Framing writing as learning and thinking reminds me I’m getting as much or more from the experience of writing something as anyone reading it might.

I’m reminded of a metaphor about creative work called the Helsinki Bus Station Theory: when you start your creative career, you’re mimicking and borrowing from others, as if you’ve chosen a particular bus to ride. If you panic that your work is too derivative and start anew with another approach, it’s like you’ve gotten off the bus, returned to your starting point, and switched buses to another derivative style, which will never get you far from your starting point. But if you persevere and stay on the bus you’ll eventually get out of “downtown” — and into creative work that is distinctly your own. (Er, read the article, it’s a better explanation 😉)

I find myself regularly thinking in the mundane and the abstract. I ponder big questions for which I do not have an answer but would like to learn more.

I’m going to take this spirit as a prompt for myself to write about things that might feel random or too insignificant. I’ve framed my site as a digital garden as a mental trick to help me not make posting and writing “precious” but do still find myself waffling over whether it’s the right spot to post something. I’m going to work on treating posting with less consequence.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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