After reading through each of Erin’s posts about how she was able to accomplish her goal of getting healthier, I started looking at my own life to reevaluate how I’ve been doing with my own goals. It didn’t take long to realize I wasn’t as far along as I hoped I’d be by this point in my life, with one goal in particular.
I’ve wanted to write book since I started writing short stories in elementary school. I don’t know why, there’s just something drawing me towards this need and life has only encouraged me to keep pursuing it. Nothing points me away from it, nothing but me. My friend once asked me why she’s never seen a book from me yet, what is stopping me? “Just write. Why is that so hard?”
I’m sure I came up with some lame excuse about not having the time, or even telling her that I have been writing, problem was nobody wanted what I wrote. Well, the second part was partially true, but that was just one book. I’ll admit it, it’s hard to put so much work into something and have it go nowhere, but that didn’t mean I had to give up on writing completely. Yet that’s exactly what I did.
Erin and I wrote 365 days of writing prompts after our failed attempt at a book, but besides that, I hadn’t thought about starting another story. I just kept fantasying about how I could fix the failure and somehow make people see our story really was worth reading. Now I still don’t know if that’s possible, but I do know that I’ve been living in my failures for what feels like a long time now.
I know a lot of people feel this way when they are faced with a blank page. The possibilities are endless. A million ways to succeed, a million ways to fail, and you’ve got to get something meaningful down before time runs out. I realized recently that I’m terrified, not just of blank pages, but of writing anything. I’m a writer who’s afraid of writing.
I imagine I’m not the only one, but this feeling baffles me. How can I be so afraid to put the wrong words on the page that instead I do nothing? I find a distraction. I run away, I remember that I have one more chore and then I’ll write something. I’ll watch this one last show. Just this one last YouTube video, or read this blog post, and then I’ll write something. But I never do.
If you don’t ever try, you can’t fail, right? Then you always had this potential, but you never got around to using it. I look at writing like walking across a tightrope with no net. You either fail or you succeed with drastic consequences for losing.
It’s ridiculous and it’s completely wrong. I like to compare my epiphany to a “Nathan for You” episode. He learns to walk across a wire between two rooftops in a “marketing stunt” to make another guy seem like a “hero”. Nathan is not trained in this skill at all, but he takes it on like he’s positive he’ll learn this in time if he continues to practice the stunt at a much smaller scale. He doesn’t call in a professional to do it for him, and that’s part of the humor, but when you ignore the irony, it’s inspiring. He learns how to do this difficult stunt as if it’s something anyone can do. Then you realize that’s because it is something anyone can do…as long as they don’t give up.
When we grow up we forget that just because we’re bad at something, doesn’t mean we can’t do it. When you’re young nobody knows what you’re capable of, so they don’t discourage you from trying. I may be a terrible fiction writer, but I can practice until I improve, because it matters to me. I could do anything until I improve and I’d still be better off than when I started. Nothing is out of reach, and I feel like the world wants us to always give up and try something new, try something easier. But that’s no way to live, always fearing what we want most.
So I guess what I’m saying is I urge you to fail. I urge you to get back up and repeat until you know the action as innately as you know the back of your hand. Yes it takes time, yes you may have to break it into smaller goals to get it done, but you deserve at least a million chances to get it right. It’s scary to fail, I know, but failing feels much better than doing nothing.
Have you ever felt afraid to do something that you are passionate about? How do you overcome that fear? I’d love to hear suggestions that have worked for you.