I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember.
As a child in the early nineties, my parents bought me a typewriter with tall keys you had to fight to make the letters print on the paper. I loved practicing writing on that thing, and the feedback from the keys felt glorious. There was nothing quite like manually turning the paper and seeing the paper rise with words as I typed up a storm.
Later, they bought me an electronic one where you could install a tippex ink ribbon to undo mistakes. Because the keyboard worked just like a laptop keyboard, there wasn’t the same kind of key feedback, but seeing the metallic arms slam the words onto the paper was satisfying all the same and is a feeling I won’t ever forget. I’d sit on the living room floor for hours writing horror stories in the style of my favourite author at the time, RL.Stine.
Every time I finished a chapter I’d excitedly run to show my dad, or my cousin when she came over to play.
The trouble was, I never finished those stories. No matter how much my cousin begged me for the next chapter, no matter how many commendations I won at high school for my stories and creative pieces, I felt like a fraud.
Years later when I started devouring books about writing, I’d discover that I was, in fact, suffering from imposter syndrome, which most, if not all creators and successful people seem to experience.
That feeling only worsened as I reached adulthood and wrote endless fanfiction which I never published. I’d dream about writing for a living, and about one day inspiring people with my words, or seeing a book I had published on store shelves. But dreaming is all I did. My work stayed hidden.
In the mid 2000’s I did start a book. One which I felt could help others. It was obvious at this point that my writer’s voice had shifted from fiction to non-fiction. I had a story to tell, and experiences that others might be able to relate to.
The trouble was that voice in the back of my head saying ‘Who do you think you are calling yourself a writer? Who would trust anything you have to say? You’re a joke, who would read your work?’
And I listened.
And I continued to write only to myself, saving my work but never showing a soul. As I went through various traumas in life, the fearless excitement from childhood went into hiding. My self-esteem was below zero.
Then I became a minimalist and somehow, letting go of all that stuff anchoring me to my past gave me a new strength…or perhaps it simply unearthed what was already there buried beneath everything I’d surrounded myself with. As I let go of so many of my physical possessions, I also started to let go of many of the beliefs about myself and the world which I’d formed growing up. Beliefs which were holding me back and had no place in the life I wanted to craft for myself.
Combined with my new, healthier beliefs, I also read every book on writing I could get my hands on, which further helped me believe that I was, in fact capable. These authors I saw as legendary beings with a magical command over the keyboard had actually been through more struggles than I thought possible to cram into one lifetime. They also had suffered imposter syndrome, or experienced crippling humiliation. Neither of them were immune from fear and doubt.
The thing is, if you’re born with a love of writing, you’re always a writer. Whether you do the work is another thing. I also recently had the good fortune of working alongside a published author who had released more than a handful of books and was successful enough to go to a party for authors. Working beside this man and hearing stories of his writing process reminded me how human writers and authors all are, no matter how confident and polished the finished work.
The difference between a successful author and a writer who never publishes their words? The author does the work regardless, and they’re willing to fail again and again. They’re willing to look stupid and to carry on their work because the alternative is death to the soul.
It’s the same regardless of what you’re pursuing. The successful ones are always the ones who put in the work. They haven’t conquered fear; they simply push through it because ironically, it’s only by putting your work out there you’ll crush the sneering voice of doubt.
Anyway, the day I created my blog on minimalism was the day I decided to give that crushing, sneering voice a serious ass-kicking. I’ve been blogging ever since, have gained over 300 followers (which I’m always amazed by) and have another book in the works – this time much further along than my previous work in progress (which rests in peace somewhere on my hard drive).
Who did that voice think it was to stomp on the dream I’ve had since I was a child, and to prevent me from expressing my true self? Who did it think it was to make me deny even one person who might get some value out of what I had to say?
Because when you don’t share your voice, when you let doubt win, that’s what happens. Someone misses out. Someone who really could have done with reading the words in the way that only you could write them.
Perhaps the worst thing of all is that you starve your soul of the very thing that nourishes it.
If you’re a writer, you’ll feel it in every fibre of your being no matter how awful you think your writing is. The words gather in your heart and mind, seeming to itch at your fingertips, bursting to escape. At least, that’s what it’s like for me.
You need to write to feel better, you get grouchy when you don’t. Once those words are composed onto a blank page, you feel a satisfaction you can’t explain and that nobody else seems to understand.
If any of that sounds like you, what’re you doing continuing to read this? Get out there and write! Someone needs your words. The way that only you can craft them.