I Call Myself a Writer…
I call myself a writer. And yet, I haven’t really written anything in months.
I’ve started many projects over the years. I’ve finished only a very few of them.
Why is that?
Why do we say that we love something, tell ourselves and tell others that we love it, identify as someone or something, but don’t actually do it?
For me, I think it comes down to two reasons.
It’s not that I’m too busy. It’s not that it’s hard (although it is). It’s not that I don’t have the ability.
I don’t write because I’m afraid and I’m lazy.
I’m a people pleaser. I always have been and probably always will be a people pleaser. I want to people to like me. I want people around me to see what I do, like it, be proud of me, feel appreciated by be, and appreciate me.
I’m afraid that I’m not good enough. I always have been. I’m proud yes, that too. But my pride sometimes comes from fear. I convince myself to be proud, to think proudly, to act proudly, in order to cover my fear, to hide it and shove it under a pillow or a rug, out of sight, out of mind.
But in reality, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that if I actually sit down, work through it, and write a complete story, novel, or collection, that the people around me won’t like it or won’t think it’s good enough.
These people, be they my friends, my husband, my parents, other writers, publishers, random strangers on the street–they fill me with fear. Fear that I’m not adequate. Fear that I’m not a good writer. Fear that they will never want to read my stuff, and if they do, they will put it down in disgust.
I know these are irrational fears. I know that what other people think of my writing doesn’t actually matter, that the act of writing is the important part. That my writing is for me, and that if other people read it and like it, that’s a bonus.
But, I also know that writing is so much more when it is read by other people. That to make a living as a writer depends on others liking my work, enjoying my work., reading it and sharing it. Not everyone, though, needs to like it. Every piece of great writing is not universally liked. Reading is a personal preference, varies from person to person.
I know all of this in my head.
And yet, I let my fear trump it. I let my fear of not being liked, of not being good enough, trump my desire to write.
I let my fear encourage my laziness.
When you’re already afraid of what will happen if you do something, you let everything come before it.
I do, any way.
I let myself sit and look with glassy eyes at the internet for hours. Or watch television. Or tidy up the kitchen I’ve already tidied up. Or I go to bed. Mostly though, I look at the internet.
I read about writing. But I don’t write very often.
I think about writing. But I don’t write very often.
Why don’t I?
I’m lazy and afraid.
I’m slowly working at convincing myself to keep trying.
I want to take the ideas floating around my head and develop them. I want to force myself to write every day, even if I don’t feel like it.
I’m slowly working at overcoming my fear.
I’m slowly and constantly reminding myself to write, to play, to enjoy it simply because I enjoy writing. I love words and I’m slowly letting myself play with them again.
For me, that’s the key. I’m playing. I’m allowing myself (and forcing myself) to write because I know I will enjoy it. And, the best part it is, I get to do whatever I want, because it’s my writing.