For some reason, this doesn't stop me from talking, but it often stops me from writing.
Lately, though, I've been thinking about the importance of just getting an idea down on paper. If I have a potential story in mind, even if I'm not sure I can execute it, I need to just start, and finish, a first draft. After all, it's only a first draft—a lump of clay; it doesn't need to look like a Greek god. But I need to get the clay first, and then start molding it, vaguely person-shaped at first and then forming the godlike details, and so on.
Sorry for the extended metaphor. I find them extremely helpful. This particular one illuminates the fact that I tend to get down on myself when my first draft isn't the final draft, or something close. How silly of me!
I once read an interview with Craig Minowa, the genius behind the Minneapolis band Cloud Cult. In the interview, Craig said that he never makes himself write. Instead, he lets it come to him. That's how he knew he was a songwriter in the first place, so why should he try to force it now? He knows it will come.
That made me think about several things. One of those things is the transition of identity from “someone who writes sometimes as a hobby” to “writer.” How does one know when to start calling him/herself a writer? In general, the difference might be that a person who likes to write as a hobby waits for their cue, and doesn't stress over it not showing up, while a writer sits down and churns out words. This is no comment on whether it's good or bad writing, for either type of writer. But I think Craig has a point. For a long time I wrote because I thought of interesting things. I didn't identify myself with it, and I didn't think about it most of the time. As soon as I changed methods—when I started chasing after ideas, when I started "perspiring," because that's what real writers do—the words became more elusive. I had become a writer, but I'd changed the methods that let me write in the first place.
Somewhat relatedly, I don't believe that writing success is only 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I don't think it helps to drudge over something you're not feeling. A finished product may require 99% work, but there needs to be at least, I don't know, 20% inspiration, or else it isn't going to sound, ahem, inspired.
This isn't to say I plan to sit around waiting for lightning to strike. It's certainly more nuanced than that. For instance, I think it's possible to cultivate a mindset that's receptive to but not obsessive about ideas, and to be methodical about pursuing the ideas that seem worth pursuing—i.e., finding a balance between waiting for lightning to strike, and getting behind the mule.
My point which I am reaching ever so circuitously is that maybe I need to just start writing and stop giving in to the anxiety that it won't be good enough (a constant fear I will probably always live with), which is certainly detrimental to free-flowing, idea-fueled writing. If I give in to that fear, I might never write anything at all, so I'm not even giving it the chance to be interesting. The solution might be to just ignore the anxiety, and write.