Q: Are you ghosting yourself?
A: Ghosting? No…I’ll get back to those unfinished pieces one of these days.
Many of the writers I work have had trouble finishing their writing. They’re not happy with their first draft—or their third—or 20th—so they put it away. Maybe they really do intend to get back to it “one of these days.” Or maybe they’re just ghosting themselves.
In case you’ve been out of the dating market for a while, the Urban Dictionary tells us that “ghosting” is:
The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone…
In the world of writing, that might translate as putting the manuscript in a drawer (if you’re old school) or deleting the shortcut from your computer’s desktop.
In dating, the ghost avoids a mature conversation with the “ghostee” about the problems between them. Those problems might well be insurmountable. Or they might be completely fixable—given the right information and support.
It’s the same with writing.
Ghosting yourself vs. working through the problems
When you ghost your writing, you avoid the same uncomfortable question date-ghosters hate asking:
Is it you or is it me?
It’s You (the writing): might be the wrong topic, a topic that doesn’t lend itself to the kind of treatment I’m trying to give it. Maybe that blog post or magazine article really does contain all I need to say on the subject. Maybe that’s why I’m having trouble turning it into a book.
It’s Me (the writer): Maybe I’m just not good enough?
That is one scary-ass question.
It takes a lot of self-confidence to answer it honestly—a whole lot more than it does to “misplace” your unfinished pieces in the back of your hard drive—ghosting yourself.
But Is it you or is it me? is not the kind of question you can answer in isolation.
People who care about their dating partners won’t ghost them; they’ll have a frank conversation and find a resolution to the relationship.
If you care about yourself as a writer, you’ll do the same thing. Find a class to build your skills. Find a writers’ group to get feedback from people you respect. Pay attention to how your work lands for other people. As I wrote the other day, that’s the only way to find out if you’re any good.
Writing or dating, it’s hard to do on your own. But when you step out of your comfort zone and allow someone else in, that’s when magic can happen.
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Also published on Medium.