I wrote this post on April 12, 2016 but never posted it. I guess I didn’t think it was good. Today, I found it in my drafts and decided to finally press publish.
When I was in school, it was normal for me to start writing an essay the night before it was due. I loved the pressure and thrived under it. But people around me didn’t understand. They were always more worried than I was, that I wouldn’t finish an assignment on time.
Never in my academic career did I ever worry about not finishing an assignment on time.
In the days leading up to a due date, there would always be chatter before lectures, or text messages sent that all surrounded around the same topic – “How far are you on your essay?”
And almost every single time I would respond: “Haven’t started yet.”
This always brought out a shocked and worried reaction from people. I was calmer than they were and I was the one with zero words written.
Had I done research? Sure. I wasn’t dumb enough to leave the research to the night before, though that did happen the odd time.
Did I have an outline of what I wanted to write? Yes and no. I never really liked thorough outlines. All I needed were three or four big ideas and I would write those down. Then I would write down sources and where I wanted to include them. That’s all I really needed in terms of an outline.
No one really understood my “madness.”
My wonderful mother edited all of my assignments. I would finish them at an absurd hour – like 5:43AM – send her a text telling her I was sending my assignment over via email, and she would wake up to edit.
She is the best; I don’t care how many of you are judging me right now.
But she always worried that something would go wrong. What if the power went out? What if my printer ran out of ink? What if someone in my residence building pulled the fire alarm and we had to stand outside for an hour?
I had no worries.
It would be 11PM the night before an essay was due and she would text me asking how my essay was going. And I would always reply with a vague: “It’s going to be a long night” instead of the complete truth: “I have three sentences and am currently trying to pick a song to play on repeat for the next five hours.”
Some nights I would call her and cry over the phone because I had no clue what to write or where to start.
I couldn’t start an essay five days before it was due. I would try, but it just wouldn’t work. I felt like I was writing just to appease an unwritten rule.
Always start your assignments many days in advance.
Solid advice, sure, but it never worked for me. It felt insincere.
You can call me a procrastinator, but I wouldn’t call myself that.
Obviously, for larger essays/assignments, I had no choice but to start writing them many days in advance.
But for the ones that were 5-7 pages in length, one night was all I needed. That’s when I did my best work.
There are seven hours between midnight and seven in the morning. If I devoted one hour to each page, I was golden. And if I were ever ahead of my “one page per hour” schedule, short five minute naps came into effect.
That was how my mind worked.
Note: I started the assignments before midnight, but if I didn’t, I still didn’t worry.
My mom would finish editing and then always tell me that it was “good” or “really good”. All moms are supposed to say that.
But on some occasions, she would really compliment my work and I knew she meant it too.
She would tell me it was one of the best things I’ve ever written, or that she was really compelled by what I wrote, despite it being about professional wrestling or Greek Gods – two things she didn’t care much about.
And I would hear these compliments and they didn’t really phase me. Sure, it was nice hearing that something I wrote was good, but to me, it was just another essay.
Everything I wrote felt the same. Nothing felt better than another essay and nothing felt worse. In my eyes, there were all just words that I wrote.
Compliments never meant much to me because I never felt like I did anything special. I just wrote what needed to be said.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized this mindset has carried over to my blog.
Most of you are aware that I write almost all of my blog posts in the middle of the night. And if you weren’t aware…surprise!
This is when my creative juices flow. I can’t help it.
My ideas come during the day, but the words don’t follow. Writing a blog post during the day is like pulling a tooth out with my feet.
And I never write an entire blog post unless I can write it all in one sitting. I can’t write half today and half two days from now. That’s like putting on your pants in the morning, going to work, and then coming home at the end of the day and putting on your belt.
Spoiler alert: The poems I write are all written within an hour or so.
When I post something on my blog, I’ll read it a few times just to make sure there are no errors. But after that, I won’t go back and read it for a very long time.
I can’t read the things I write.
I force myself to read my old blog posts only when I’m desperately trying to find an inspiration for a new blog post.
But when I do that, I feel incredibly awkward.
I read my old posts and I feel as if I’m reading someone else’s work.
“I wrote that? There’s no way. I don’t write like that. This sounds way more intelligent than anything I’ve ever written. These sentences are really good. This blog post is really good. Wow. No wonder people were complimenting me on it. I never realized this at the time.”
Those are my thoughts.
Even when I find old high school assignments in my closet, I’ll read through them and be amazed at the words I wrote – in a good way. Then I’ll look at the mark I got and it won’t be a surprise because I now realize just how good of a writer I was.
I know, it sounds like I’m bragging a lot. Sorry.
When I post something, it’s just another blog post to me, even though one of my goals for this blog is to make each post better than the last. Sometimes I don’t think I accomplish that goal.
I receive compliments on my posts and you’d think that I’m over here doing backflips based on my enthusiastic replies of “Thank you!” and “I’m so glad you enjoyed it!” when really I’m just awkwardly trying to find a response that shows I appreciative you for taking the time to comment.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m always happy to receive compliments. There have been a lot of meaningful ones that I’ll never forget. But, I feel like I haven’t done anything to really deserve them. I don’t feel as though I’ve done anything special.
I’m just being myself. A lot of the things I write, anyone can write.
Perhaps I’m selling myself short. Perhaps I need to give myself more credit.
On one hand, I don’t see how good I am, despite the hundreds of compliments that tell me otherwise. On the other hand, I feel like I have the best blog in the world. It’s a strange balancing act going on in my head that I don’t fully understand.
I scroll through my old posts and feel like I’m a stranger reading Paul’s blog, rather than myself reading my own blog. It’s only then that I see what you all see in me.
That may sound weird, but it’s the truth.
It might take me a few months to fully realize what I wrote here today because I’m going to press publish and then not read this again for a few months.
This is just another blog post. Just me being me, writing words that I don’t think are that important right now.
But one day down the road, I’ll probably look back on this post and think: “I wrote that? Damn right I did.”
Five months after writing this post, I can tell you that I do see the impact that my blog has on others, even if it’s just one person. It makes me feel like I’m doing something important. And that puts a smile on my face.
I also see how good of a writer I am, even though it’s still awkward for me to say it. I’d rather just let my blog posts speak for themselves.