Sometimes the hardest part about writing is picking up the pen again. After a long break from a project, it can be difficult to convince yourself to get back on the saddle and finish it. I went through this experience and I wanted to understand is why. Do we simply get busy? Does life demand so much from us that we can’t find time for our passion.
I searched within myself to find out why I wasn’t writing a story that I truly enjoyed writing. At first I thought I was too busy. I had other client obligations, school, and just general day to day demands that I had to commit to. Writing took a back seat. When I found free time I’d get a tingling in my fingers, an itching to write. But when I sat down to do so, I couldn’t.
It must be writer’s block, I thought. But it wasn’t. I wasn’t at all blocked. I had plenty of ideas and I knew where I wanted to take the story. What I was struggling with was how. How do I mould this? I was having trouble keeping up with my own imagination. So I slowed down my thinking. That didn’t help. I still wasn’t able to get my thoughts down. I wasn’t writing and it hurt. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I wrote everyday at one point. I’d write for fun, for pay, for the sheer acknowledgement of my life. Then one day, I was sitting, looking at my story and I began to see why I was struggling…I was questioning my ability as a writer.
I became used to earning for my work as a ghost writer. No one knew it was me behind the words. My work satisfied my client’s and that satisfied me, but now I would be unmasking myself. “What if they don’t like what they see?”
For years I had trained my ego not to get involved with the writing process. Because the ego wreaks havoc on any craft, I told myself very early on that if I wanted to be a writer I had to tame the beast. For many years, it worked. I could write without feeding my ego. I didn’t need praise. I didn’t even care if it was read. I was happy just to write. For me, writing has always been proof that I am alive and that was enough for me.
But somewhere along the way the ego came back and my confidence was shaken. I began to worry that my so called talent was greatly lacking. I feared that I fooled myself into thinking I had a skill that I didn’t actually possess and everyone would soon find out. I didn’t feel like a writer or artist.
Each time I stepped in front of the blank page to create I’d chicken out. I’d remind myself of another task I needed to do, such as studying or the laundry. I lost faith in my own ideas and by doing so I was losing faith in my own imagination.
How I do I get back to a place where writing feels carefree and enjoyable again?
How do I loosen the grip of my ego and start listening to my heart again?
How do I get my self confidence as a writer back?!
These were the questions I deeply wanted answers to. I’d try to tell myself, “once a writer always a writer.” I tried writing just one paragraph a day. On really bad days I was lucky to get out a sentence. When you care more about the reception of your work than the simple joy writing can induce, it can be impossible to pen anything. Words become the enemy. Nothing seems good enough.
All the authors that have been successful believed in their work. Even if they also shared the fear of being rejected, they believed in their work enough to submit their manuscript or put it in front of an audience. But can you believe in your work when you don’t believe in yourself as a writer? Yes, you can. You can be proud of the characters you created, the plot you developed, and the general idea of the work. You do not need to have absolute confidence in yourself as a writer. You just need to understand that there is beauty in what you have created. It may need polishing, but it isn’t at all bad. So, I began to look for the beauty in my ugly piece. And that in itself took some imagination. I found I liked the characters I had created. But still, I was not writing. Finally, I went back and asked myself why I write in the first place….it is proof that I am alive.
I do not write to change the world, or demand respect. I do not release the ink because I have great thoughts that must be on display. No, I write because it brings light and life into my being. It allows my mind to play; to be tested, and develop. It squelches out deep painful fires that burn in my soul and adds new blossoms in my heart. When I write I do it for the sake of my heart and my mind. I am a selfish writer. I care only for giving intrigue and stimulation to myself. I fall in love with life each time I type; because with each story, I live a different version of life.
Once I had found my way back to the roots of my creative pursuits, I became less fearful. Let them laugh and ignore me. Let them reject me. It will not lessen the pleasure I got from writing it in the first place.
And though I am sure I will face many days when I question my skill, I will remind myself of the reason for playing with words in the first place.