How to Define Yourself

My writing mentor (even though we’ve never met or talked), Augusten Burroughs, writes some pretty wonderful advice about love and life and everything in-between. In his book, “This is How,” he gave his readers some insightful advice: Who you are is made up of multiple things, but you do not have to define yourself with any of them. In essence, labels are straight-up bullshit. You label yourself.

This is not a quote. In fact, I cannot find an actual quote of what specifically this book taught me (I highly recommend it, obviously). Anyway, I want to hash out that idea here.

Assume all quotations in this piece are by Augusten Burroughs.

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On Waiting to Edit Only to Never Return

The past few weeks, maybe months, have been a struggle with overcoming writer’s block. The words used to come so easily until they stopped and I wanted them to come back because they made me feel important. The words were there for me when no one else was. I could read them, manipulate them, and throw them back as grenades on paper to represent my emotional anguish and sometimes, confusing self-hatred.

Where was all of that now? The feelings that plagued me usually came with free words, but maybe my system had updated and the words were now covered by screaming neon advertisements or a necessary payment I hadn’t needed before. Where were all the words?

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