I stopped writing.
And I stopped because it means so much to me.
Writing has always been a way for me to both escape and find myself at the same time. It’s a way for me to explore different parts of who I am, my surroundings, and beyond. It pushes me to think in a way that nothing else does. It can serve as therapy or a way for me to discover a drunk zombie ballerina living with her pet cow in Dorset. I truly believe that there are no limits to the type of fun and meaning writing can bring to someone’s life.
I stopped writing because I was paralysed with doubt and fear. I fear being bad at something I love. I fear failing. As I have the habit of doing, I stopped and retreated to safety as a result.
Recently, a mentor walked me through an exercise where I was given 10 minutes to write “the most awe-inspiring prose possible”, which was to then be shared with an online audience. I froze. As much as I tried, my brain would not return any thoughts. I could only think about failure and what the audience was going to think of such a poor show.
I had nothing at the 10-minute mark.
But, as I should have known, my mentor was not expecting anything and my writing was never going to be shared with another soul. Phew! The, now-much-nicer-seeming, mentor then prompted me to breathe deeply, pick any item from my surroundings, and think for a few moments about the memories associated with that item. I had another 10 minutes to write freely, with the promise that only I would ever see this piece.
Suddenly, I was walking through the streets of Paris with a broken heart, looking for magic, and finding it amongst Shakespeare and Company. I was returning home to find a snow globe left by my parents, the most wonderful of Christmas Elves, who had snuck into their grown daughter’s house while she was away to make sure she felt snug on arrival. I was finding comfort in both adventure and home.
I didn’t have the “the most awe-inspiring prose possible” at the 10-minute mark, and my mentor would have surely given me a heart attack if he’d asked me to share my writing, but what I had produced meant something to me.
The lesson was clear. To begin writing again, I need to write for myself, without an audience in mind. If others like what I put out into the world, then that’s marvellous, but I need to start with myself and maybe that will hold a lesson for others too.
A resolution that has come from not only that mentor session, but a multitude of recent experiences, has been to be more deliberate in writing every single day. I’m aiming to make blogging a weekly habit as part of this resolution. I hope to look back at this post in a year’s time and feel happy with the way my writing has levelled up, with the knowledge that there’s still plenty of levelling up to be done.
Here’s to the journey! 🥂