“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” ~Robert H. Schuller
Here’s a confession: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was thirteen years old when I first discovered the magic of words.
Here’s another: It was only at the ripe old age of twenty-six that I could truthfully call myself a writer.
Why was it so slow?
That is something I think often about. When people ask about my writing, they often find it difficult to tell me that I’m a writer. Both proud and terrified, I often wonder how I’ll explain to people if I don’t succeed.
It doesn’t begin like that, of course. It can be frightening to feel confident in your abilities as a teenager, or as an adult. As an example, when I read Agatha Christie, I thought, “I could do that.” Confidence!
Next comes the part of growing up. Your faith in yourself is eroded by being surrounded with comparisons from your parents, teachers, or other peers. And there are discouraging comments, with their implications…
“No one’s ever done this before” How will you do it?
“Most turn into failed writers” You will be able to do it.
“What do you want to write? That’s great! How will you earn a living with it?” You will not
This way of thinking kept me away from my dreams for so long. I grew up in an environment where being financially independent was highly valued, and I just didn’t see how writing could help me achieve the same.
My writing skills deteriorated over the years. Although I did occasionally write a poem, or an occasional short story, there was never much substance such as posts or stories. It was clear that I had given up on engineering and decided to focus instead on a stable, rational career.
Engineering was far from my thoughts that the pages. I knew something was missing in my life, but I just didn’t know what!
It was then that something amazing happened.
My curiosity drove me to pursue a career in marketing. Marketing, but also digital marketing. This was my first job. It was for a tech company.
Instantly, I found myself back in my childhood dreams. While I continued to write, edit, research, but I didn’t know how it would sustain me or what was ahead of me, one thing became clear.
It was a great experience, and I enjoyed it even though it didn’t lead to anything.
That was over five years ago, and since then I’ve taken step after step in the direction of my dreams.
Here’s what I learnt:
1. Don’t overthink it.
If you’re anything like me, you probably spend a lot of time researching before actually starting anything. You start with great intentions, to look before you jump. But before you know it you’ve spent days researching without ever writing anything.
Everything was available online: How do you become a blogger. What is the most important thing a writer should look for? These are the top five essential things for new writers.
However, writing is ultimately the best and only way to make it happen. It was impossible to avoid it. In fact, if I had skipped overthinking it and just gone with the flow, I wouldn’t have ended up in what turned out to be a big waste of my time and energy.
2. Your identity can be taken apart.
For a long time, I didn’t pick up the pen because I was scared to try. This is what you see. if I tried and it didn’t work out, I would become ThisFailure writer
I had always dreamed of becoming a great writer and talented person, even though it was impossible to achieve. This went on for years before I finally realized that the time passed without me ever writing another word.
Each year passed faster, which meant less time to me. Anytype of writer. This scared me more that any other reason I was unable to write.
I said to myself: I’ll write. Now that doesn’t make me any kind of writer, it just makes me a person who writes. Who I am and what I have achieved isn’t defined AT ALL by my writing.
With this statement, I detached my identity from the task, taking off the pressure and letting myself simply…write.
3. Allow yourself to be sucked.
For a time, I was distracted by the idea of how I should write and what my style should look like. The articles I read felt wrong, and I didn’t like writing them.
Problem? The problem?
Only after many failed attempts did I realize that my lack of experience was what made me so miserable. However, I had the potential to be better.
The only thing I needed to do was admit that I was a pathetic person and put in the effort.
My work was only allowed to progress when I gave myself permission to write badly.
4. Negatives are out.
Imagine you’ve finally gotten off the couch when a negative friend comes around. Oh, this? It will never work, they say. How about if your friend visits you regularly?
You can choose to have a friend in real life or you can let your mind wander, causing all sorts of objections and fear.
In my case, it was my anxiety-riddled brain, torturing me with “You’re not good at this” thoughts. This is just as toxic with toxic friends. You have to stop this from happening.
I did it simply—every time I started getting a thought like this, I would:
a) Either distract myself OR
b) Say “NO!” and cut it off before it took hold of me.
These negative thoughts faded away eventually, and they no longer bother me. Negative friends are not good for you. It’s your dream—you must guard it with your life!
5. Let go.
Arthur Ashe has a popular saying:
“Start where you are. Make the most of what you already have. Do what you can.”
This is the most crucial tip. Don’t worry about what you cannot control. If you’ve done basic research (not too much) and taken the time to make up your mind, act.
There will always be things outside your power—the future is not something you can foresee. You can only control your efforts, so get involved!
Shuyaasha Mitra is a freelancer who loves writing about personal development, mental health and writing. The Fickle Lemon, which produces and edits valuable and relevant content for small magazines and businesses, is her foundation. She enjoys reading crime novels, creative fiction and playing with her cat in her spare time. Get in touch with her through IG [@theficklelemonwriting]
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Tiny Buddha published the post How I Quit Procrastinating, and Began Creating The Life of My Dreams.