Fear was probably the biggest factor stopping me. If you have the dream of being a writer and you go for it and fail, THEN what do you have? You don’t even have the DREAM to cling to anymore. One thing I have learned is that “talent” is an overrated concept. Most successful people have become successful by working hard at their craft, developing their skills, and devoting time and attention to the process. For most of us, writing is no different. You may have a natural writing talent, but that doesn’t mean you can skip the steps of learning, practicing and revising. I’m trying to say that you will probably have to experience failure several times before you learn the process thoroughly enough to do it well. As for me? I'm still learning. But by putting imperfect work out there, I'm moving past the fear and getting great feedback for improving my skills.
Several years ago, I hired a life coach. When my interest in writing came up, my coach gave me a “homework assignment” to sign up for a writing class--any kind. The point was to take a step forward. I came back the next week and confessed that I hadn’t signed up for any classes. But, I told her, a brochure offering writing classes had come in the mail and only one of the classes would be feasible with my work schedule. But it was a novel-writing class, so I couldn’t sign up for it. She asked why not and all I could think to say was “I can’t write a novel.” To which she replied “Why not? How do you know you can’t write a novel? Have you tried? I haven’t known you long, but I think you could write a novel.” So I left with instructions to sign up for a writing class—it didn’t have to be the novel writing class. I did end up taking that class and I wrote a novel that year. It wasn’t a good novel, but I got the words on paper and I thought up the concept, developed the plot, sketched out the character traits, and wrote the dialogue. She was right: I could write a novel. To this day I am amazed by the huge impact the confidence of one stranger could have on my self-confidence. Was that what I had been waiting for my whole life? Permission? A vote of confidence? It’s crazy when I think about it.
I have always worked full time and it never felt like I had enough free time to dedicate to writing. But when I took that novel writing class, I was working on a large project at work and also acting as property manager for a duplex. I think the writing class was like a vacation for me. It was “me” time. I only wrote one scene a week. I felt obligated to write something every week because I didn’t want to show up for class with nothing to read aloud. The class held me accountable. I didn’t want to let anyone down. For many years I was a high school teacher. In all those years, with my summers off, I couldn’t motivate myself to finally dedicate some time to writing. If I had just signed up for a writing class! The point I’m trying to make is that you make time to do the things you really want to do. And all the time in the world won’t motivate you to do something that you don’t want to do or are afraid of trying.
A little over a year ago during the Christmas season, I heard “A Cup of Christmas Tea” on the radio. My first thought was that I could do that too. Rhyming is always something I have enjoyed doing, but I had never attempted to write a story that way. The next thing I thought about was how much I used to enjoy the Dr. Seuss books of my youth. The stories were so clever and entertaining. So I attempted to write my first rhyming story. A Christmas story for children. It was terrible, but it did rhyme. I revised and rewrote many times before I got it to a point where I felt I could show it to others and get their honest feedback.
So that’s how I got to this point. A few words of inspiration and a commitment to a class full of other aspiring writers…and I finally got moving. I still have a lot to learn about the craft of writing, but I can see progress in my work and it feels good. I am so glad I made the leap and finally tried something I have always wanted to try. I may never make any money at it or become a known author, but there’s only one way to find out, so I’m going for it.
I hope you found this story inspirational. Maybe this is the catalyst you or someone you know needs to get going on something. If so, I wish you the best of luck on your journey!