A few weeks back, my boss and I were having one of our not-so-regular professional development conversations. For me, these are torturous; akin to watching an episode of Skating with the Stars. I have trouble thinking much past next month, so don’t even try getting me to make a five year plan.
But, there we were, talking about my future. About next steps. As the conversation evolved — with me fighting it every step of the way — my boss suggested I write my obituary.
Yes. My obituary.
After getting over the general skeeviness of it, I realize it actually is an interesting assignment. The point is to get you to think about what you want to be remembered for. Though I haven’t completed the assignment yet, I can assume that it’s an exercise to get those thoughts on paper, which should ultimately help you determine a path for both your career and your life as a whole.
Except. Well, who am I and what is it that I want to be remembered for? As I thought about that, everything that came to mind was personal.
Who am I?
A lover of books.
A lover of people.
A lover of dogs.
A lover of good writing.
A lover of travel.
What do I want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered as a good person.
A good wife.
A good mom.
A scintillating conversationalist.
While these things are all well and good, they offer no insight into a future career. Wups?
So, after the initial brainstorm, I’ve stalled out. For the past few weeks I’ve avoided the assignment like the plague. I’m sure it’s given my boss just another reason to lose faith in me because I haven’t completed yet another professional development task. It’s been both a contributor and a casualty to that pesky writer’s block.
See, right before I got this assignment, I got all high and mighty on the writing thing. It was about the time work was really starting to tank my self-esteem. I was getting lots of criticism on my writing and was beginning to feel like I’d taken a complete wrong turn by making a career out of it since, clearly, I was awful at it.
To overcome the voices in my head (and my Inbox), I decided I was going to make my personal writing more of a priority. I thought that if I could get back to my own writing, it would make me hate my job — and the writing it requires — less. Heck, it might even make me better at the on-the-job writing.
To get back on the bandwagon, I’d also decided I was going to take my writing offline and start journaling. I was going to use the writing prompts offered by Writer’s Digest and go back to my roots with some good ol’ pen and paper.
It was going to be great.
Until I was told to write my obituary. The empty journal sat on my nightstand for weeks. I felt like I couldn’t start on my personal writing until I accomplished this actual assignment.
(It should be noted that who I am also includes a huge procrastinator and excuse-maker. Because even I know that’s a lame excuse.)
I finally sat down one night a drafted my obit, but instantly hated it. And I haven’t touched it — or the journal — since.
I’m stuck. Not only do I need to finish the assignment, but I also need to get jazzed about writing again. I think about the days when I used to love creative writing. When I had ideas for a book floating in my head. When I could sit down and just write for hours.
I haven’t done that, or even had the urge to do that, in years. And it really scares me. It scares me that after growing up with stories in my head, the real world has sullied me. The writing career that I worked so hard for has ruined me and taken away my imagination, my creativity, my voice. It scares me that the writing career has taken away the writing passion.
Because something else I want to be known for? Is being a great writer.