Shortly after my 40th birthday, I began something I had secretly dreamed of doing my whole life: I began writing seriously and sharing it with the world. Despite having written professionally for more than 23 years, the thought of sharing something personal was terrifying. Nearly one year after beginning this process, I only wish I had started sooner.
The greatest obstacle to getting started? Fear. Not only was I afraid to share the details of my story (in effect, airing my dirty laundry) but I was afraid that the world would reject me for having no talent as a writer.
There were times when I would be inspired to write and, somewhere towards the end of an article, I would begin to doubt myself. As soon as I began re-reading what I had written, my creative process stopped. The flow of words would come to an abrupt halt.
When I began writing creatively, I was “trying” to write in a way that appealed to a broad audience. As I would write, a voice would creep into my thoughts, “who gives a shit about any of this crap you are writing?” I was crippled by the impostor syndrome.
The result of my first few months of writing was a notebook full of half-written pieces and incomplete thoughts. My ladybird offered me a suggestion that opened the floodgates of my creativity: stop re-living what you have written – just write it and leave it alone. This helped me finish many of those first articles. I agreed not to read my writing and let her edit before publishing.
She also recommended that I write what I know: my story. After all, it’s pretty hard to be an impostor when you are telling your own story. A happy side effect was that I would be able to fill in some of the gaps for my kids, when they are ready to read it.
It was when I shifted the focus of who I was writing to that I was able to find my voice. Writing without having the reader in mind allowed the process to flow. When I turn off the editor’s voice in my head, I can brain dump, get all of the ideas out, and edit later.
This process of telling my story has been the catalyst for my personal revolution. By exposing the memories that have haunted me, I have rendered them powerless. I am using what WAS the source of great agony as my inspiration for overcoming it.
Writing is a means of expressing myself. But this article is more about finding what moves you and then getting off your ass and doing it. Defining what moves you is a deeply personal affair. Some of us know our calling from very early on. For others, it may not be apparent until much later in life. Moreover, it may be that you or I are meant to do many different things in our lifetimes…
I only know this: your true calling is something you would be willing to do without any expectation of being paid to do it. The trick is to do it until you get good enough that people WILL pay you.