There’s a chapter of Charles Bukowski’s Women that opens with this:
I began receiving letters from a girl in New York City. Her name was Mindy. She had run across a couple of my books, but the best thing about her letters was that she seldom mentioned writing except to say that she was not a writer.
Most people are much better at saying things in letters than in conversation, and some people can write artistic, inventive letters, but when they try a poem or story or novel they become pretentious.
Maybe this is especially true nowadays with email. Email is closer to the exact mid-point between conversation and writing than traditional letter-writing in my experience (writing a letter by hand always seemed to morph into a labored literary exercise for me, despite my efforts to keep it light and conversational). At its best moments, email can produce a kind of resonance that’s rarely present in conversation and entirely absent from the labored writing of those of us who are not good writers.
I find that with any creative undertaking – be it writing, design, or something else entirely – the key is in finding a context that removes this weighty sense of trying, the self-consciousness that makes the process labored and ultimately un-fun. I had a drawing teacher who, for the first five weeks or so of the course, would only allow you to draw for 10 or 20 seconds at a time before stopping you. His intent was to isolate the initial sense of possibility and fun that exists in the first few moments of drawing before the labored feeling of “Oh no, I’m creating a drawing… what should I do next?” quickly kicks in. His idea was that once you’re able to isolate this first sensation from the second, hopefully you’re gradually able to carry it further into the process and delay the onset of the second. I think he was definitely onto something, although his manner of teaching it was admittedly frustrating at first.