I know what most people are assuming, and I will squash that right now. It has nothing to do with finding inspiration.
That’s not to say that finding inspiration is easy. Coming up with new novel and short story ideas takes me months, and even after the idea has taken shape in my mind, it tends to grow into something entirely different along the way. I will say one thing, the internet is my best friend.
For me, the most difficult thing is to trust myself. Even as a third grader, jotting down little stories on napkins at my dad’s office, I was a writer. Will those stories ever be published? Unlikely. But even then I was a writer. I had he passion and the patience enough to struggle with those napkins to get my idea down.
I was a writer.
I am a writer.
I trusted myself then, wasn’t bogged down with my biggest enemies: self-doubt and perfectionism. It didn’t matter to me what anyone thought until I decided to choose it for my career.
Then it all went down hill.
I force myself to think about Stephen King (how cliche that he’s my go-to author) and how confident he must have been when he unleashed The Tommyknockers into the world. I think about Patricia Highsmith, who paved the road for homosexual fiction in The Price of Salt. I think of Chuck Palahniuk and everything he has ever done ever. None of them held themselves back, worried about what others would think.
Or maybe they did.
Maybe they did nag themselves with their own inhibitions, but they were able to push through it to be the iconic writers they are today. Maybe they, too, spent hours upon countless hours staring at a blank sheet of paper or at the dreaded blinking cursor, wondering how to begin.
No, all we see are the final products, the glimmering perfect creations they must have slaved over for months. We don’t see the dark, gruesome journey these works took to become what they are.
That’s what intimidates me about it. Even with a little more insight, as with my writing group partners, I still feel like I’m the only one going through this, the only one who “can’t write”. Even their kind words fall on deaf ears, my inner voices speaking louder, screaming the opposite.
I have backspaced blocks of text I deemed as “bad”, knowing completely that, had I kept it, my peers would love it. But I don’t like it. And that’s all that matters.
But that doesn’t matter. In my opinion, my opinions about my writing doesn’t matter. What matters is what others think about my writing. Does it make them smile? Do they feel sad? Are they hungry for more?
Easier said than done.
It’s also easy to tell myself this, but not at all easy to stop the negativity and self-doubt that push their way to the front of my mind. They crawl down my fingers and freeze them in place. They crowd my dreams and give me nightmares about blank sheets and the blinking cursor.
This is the worst part: never feeling good enough, never feeling ready. The toughest part of being a writer may actually stop me from being a writer.
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