Writing has been hard, lately. Admitting that and looking introspectively at the reasons why has been even harder. There is no doubt that I’m a writer. I still don’t doubt that writing is something innate within me, like a predator’s instinct or a person’s ability to breathe without thinking about it. But in the past month, the doubts have overtaken me once more, and, regrettably, painfully, proven stronger.
Sure, you love writing, but is that enough? Are your stories even worth telling? Who would care to read them? How could your words matter? You’ll probably offend everyone, anyway, with what you write, even without meaning to, even when all you want to do is write enjoyable, complex stories for readers to enjoy, no alternate agenda attached. You’d have to get published, of course, for anyone to even pick apart your work. But how could that even happen? You still have so much work ahead of you. You aren’t as far along as you thought. Querying is a dream now, instead of something to write on next week’s To-Do list. Sure, you love your stories, but is that enough? Are you enough?
All writers–all artists, I’d argue–deal with this cruel Devil, this self-sabotaging doubt, just as we all are blessed to interact with the inspiring Muses. Unfortunately, the Devil probably shows up more often and is much more counteractive. And usually, I can push past it. Usually, I can ignore it and write anyway. I’m just too stubborn to do anything else and my characters, bless them, usually won’t shut up, so I can’t avoid writing even if I wanted to.
But this past month has been…rough, to put things gently. Depression has weaseled itself back into my life, nowhere near the power it once held over me, but still with a surprising strength. Stress is a constant companion. Fear has been prevalent. My emotions have been everywhere and tears have been free flowing. I’m just now getting back into other things I’m passionate about, instead of sleeping too much and struggling to get out of bed: reading, writing on both blogs, freelance editing and working on my internship. I’m slowly battling, every day.
But I haven’t been writing.
Worse, I haven’t even been trying.
I tell myself I need to write. It’s NaNoWriMo, after all. And that was such a transformative experience, last year, opening my eyes to how powerful creating a writing habit could be and how possible writing every day actually was, if I gave myself permission to do so. Hell, I’ve written three books in less than a year thanks to NaNoWriMo. And I honestly have the time to do so. I may be busy, but I’m actually very lucky to not be lacking in time, which is usually one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. And that freedom of time has an expiration date as my search for a second job comes closer and closer to reality. Yet I don’t even try. I don’t even open that Word document. I find other things to preoccupy my time, come up with excuses, anything to not think about the fact that I’m avoiding writing head-on. Yet I am. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, because I’ve been afraid.
But afraid of what?
Of failing? I’ve failed thousands of times in my life but I’m still here and I’m not bloody done yet. Afraid of not being good enough? A falsity I have believed about myself in numerous aspects for too long, but something I’ve never believed, truly, when it comes to my writing, no matter how many times doubt and cruel mindtricks try to convince me otherwise. I’m damn well not about to start now, not when I’m making slow strides to believe I’m good enough in every aspect. Afraid of never getting published? Is that truly the end goal? Sure, I’d love to be well-loved and well-known author, but is it really failure if I don’t get published? Not even remotely. I write because I must, not for a paycheck. And even when–if–paychecks become involved, that isn’t the main motivation. It never was. It shouldn’t be now or ever. Afraid of writing something poorly or ill-received? You can’t edit a blank page and just because someone hates your work doesn’t mean that someone else might not only love it, but need it.
What am I truly afraid of?
Nothing. Everything. The answer changes, depending on the day and the mood and the circumstance. But the scariest idea, at this moment, is that I’ve been avoiding what I love most because of so many fears and other emotions and other aspects of my life have bled into my belief in my own writing, tainting it and corrupting it until I scared myself away from even attempting to write at all.
I’m not certain about many things, but I am certain about the obvious: no matter what fears I have or what dreams I have, none of them matter if I don’t try. Without trying, my fears have won out, even if some of them are avoided from being experienced by not working towards what I want. Without trying, my dreams are impossible to achieve. I am the greatest advocate of my own work. I am the greatest chance my dreams have at becoming reality. I am the sole breath that creates life in my stories. I am their only hope.
The only thing that is stopping me, at this moment, is myself.
So eff-it. Eff the mind games, eff the doubt, eff the depression, eff the loneliness, eff the fears, eff the stress, eff the struggles, eff the darkness in the world, eff everything. I have stories to tell. And I’m tired of letting all of these elements, all of these emotions, dictate whether or not I should tell them. I’m tired of giving into my own demons and succumbing to my own fears. I’m taking care of myself. I’m pushing forward and I’m becoming stronger, despite what life throws at me. But the best way to take care of myself is to stop denying, stop hiding, stop avoiding and stop fearing what makes me whole and what makes me, me: the stories I have to tell and my ability to write them.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I have a NaNoWriMo project that’s sitting at 12,000 words that deserves my attention and my belief. And you probably have a dream that deserves your attention right now, too.