Last year was a big year for me, in terms of writing. It was filled with growing pains, learning, and stretching. I made wonderful new connections with readers as well as other writers that I respect. I found a community of people who love words, who believe in the power of words, and who bleed words onto the page because it’s the best way they know how to process the world they live in. I found my people.
Throughout the year I made writing more of a commitment and a priority, setting aside time to nurture this part of myself. I practiced consistency even when I felt like I was falling short in quality. I wrestled with myself and the gremlins that whispered in my ear. Those gremlins that whisper of doubt, fear, failure, and humiliation. They snarl and hiss and steal away my bravery. They make me feel tender and raw and not enough. They make me question my ability, my delivery, and my sense of even belonging in the writing community at all. They make me feel foolish.
I told you guys, writers are a terribly insecure bunch. Maybe even worse than actors.
I wrestled with myself and I battled those gremlins until I bled words that were real and true and from the bottom of my heart. Then I made myself get up and do it again. I sometimes shared things that were uncomfortable, personal, and that didn’t make me look very good. But they were real, and I discovered that you guys connected with those words the most.
I realized this year that writing is not only something I’m passionate about, it’s hardwired into who I am as a person. I finally had the gumption to acknowledge that it’s not just some inconsequential hobby I have, it’s a God-given dream that’s been tucked away in my heart, maybe for forever? I wonder, how long it was there and how long I was too afraid to see it.
It was a big year because even though I stumbled, I made missteps, and I wrote things that still make me cringe, I kept DOING THE THING.
I learned that having a dream takes work.
And that’s all really great and everything, but something else happened last year, too.
The more I found the courage to acknowledge my dream of writing, the more I put pressure on myself. Pressure to be something more, to do something bigger, to hurry up and be great. I started over-thinking all of it. I lost a little bit of the joy I find in writing because I wasn’t allowing myself to do it freely anymore. I suddenly felt like I had to have some kind of a message. Like I needed to always be “about” something. And let’s all be real here- most of the time that’s just not me.
It got me thinking…
Why do I write? I mean really. Why do I write? Because Lord knows it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. I mean, as far as extracurriculars go, I could be taking up gardening or hip hop or crafting instead. (That’s a lie- I would never take up crafting. Don’t you know me at all?)
I write mostly because it feeds my soul. I write because I crave those “me too” moments of connecting and relating to other people, even if I never see their faces. I write because the world can be heavy and scary and I just want to brighten someone’s day a bit and maybe make them laugh. Or at the very least, I want to make them feel better about themselves as successful humans by sharing my personal blunders. I write because it makes me feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to do.
If these are the real reasons that I write, then why am I putting so much pressure on myself to make it be something more? Don’t answer that. It was rhetorical.
As I’ve traveled further down this path over the last year, I’ve unwittingly burdened myself with the unnecessary weight of expectations. But here’s the thing with expectations: they are often nothing more than premeditated disappointments or resentments.
So this year, I’m throwing out all the rules. I’m shirking all the expectations that I’ve put on myself. I’m going rogue.
I’m going to write with abandon. I’m going to write it all. I’m going be lighthearted and sarcastic when I want to and I’m going to be serious and vulnerable when it feels right. I’m going to keep showing up and being my real self for you dear readers. You guys have stuck by me through all the awkward growing pains. You’ve been encouraging and gracious, you’ve been generous with your “me too’s”, and when I’ve shared those fragile pieces of myself with you, you’ve handled them with care.
You guys are my favorite.
I friggin love you.
I’m not at all sure what’s in store for us in 2016, but one thing is for sure: I’m going to silence those pesky gremlins, I’m going to get out of my own head, and I’m tossing out all my own rules, excuses, and plans. This feels scary, because that means I’m letting go of my version of the dream. I’m trusting God for his version, and I have no idea what that version looks like. I guess there’s only one way to find out…
So I’m going to shut up and write.