There's nothing more intimidating than a blank page. It stares up at you and all you can do is just sort of start.
On the good days the words flow. Each sentence feels like a masterpiece. You barely pause between the carefully-crafted bits of prose. You amaze yourself with your ability to write a long sentence that somehow manages to compel the reader to finish; clause after clause nesting within themselves until you feel like it may never end.
Then it does.
It's just a brief bit of literary punctuation. Enough to give your reader - and your mind - a chance to take a break, nothing more. You're a craftsperson and you know your craft well; it's time to create your next piece of art.
Then you dive back in again, ready for the words to tumble out of you like an old movie theatre popcorn maker spilling its bounty.
But they don't.
And that's when the grind starts. Each sentence forced from your fingertips like you're squeezing the last bits of toothpaste from a well-worn tube. You're writing because the page demands it. It's hard. You're sure you're fucking it up. You almost hope nobody sees, which all but ensures someone will.
You can't stop. It's your job. So you cut corners. You allow yourself to reuse the tricks you've used so many times before, thinking maybe nobody will notice your laziness; your sloppiness; your willingness to do anything just to make it to the end of the godforsaken page.
Someone will notice.
You'll notice. And you'll feel like a failure. It won't matter how many pages you've filled and how many words you've stitched together into some semblance of sanity. It won't matter how secure your reputation or how well-viewed your body of work; you'll feel in that instant like you can't possibly have been any good at this thing.
"Some days the goal is to just survive," she said and it's the best piece of advice we ever tucked away. Of course, she was our doctor and she was talking about parenting.
But then again, I guess maybe so was I.