Fight Your Fears

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I never really considered it as a career (I like stability), but I always wanted to publish novels. I make up stories in my head when I’m bored and am constantly thinking of new story ideas.

But I rarely write.

There’s always some excuse. I don’t have enough time is the most common. Like most writers, I also use the mythic writer’s block as an excuse- I’m not feeling inspired now, I’ll write later. But later never comes. Another popular one is that I just need to learn more about the craft of writing before I’ll be able to write well, so why not just wait until then?

None of these are the real reason that I don’t write. The real reason is because it’s really fucking hard. I’m so afraid of what other people will think of my writing and how they will judge it, that I’m paralyzed into inaction.

Sometimes, like in November when I do NaNoWriMo, I’ll get into a good writing habit. Then I’ll think to myself, this is great! This is what I’ve needed all along! Now I can just keep this up and I’ll finally get more writing done.

But then November ends and I get back to the grind, making excuses to avoid writing.

So many people say that the key to being a good writer isn’t having talent, it’s perseverance. You need to be able to face the criticism, judgment, and rejection and still believe in yourself and your story. You need to experience these things and keep writing. I like to think that I’m the kind of person who does persevere. A friend once described me as someone who “relishes a challenge.” Why is it then that writing is so hard for me?

One quote I really like that applies here: “Perseverance isn’t one long race, it’s several short races one after another.”

The way I’ve been thinking about writing is that I get over the stumbling block once and keep going. But that’s not how it works. Literally every time I write, I have to face that fear and that anxiety. It doesn’t get easier and it doesn’t go away.

The first step in fighting your enemies is knowing them. I don’t feel inhibited by this knowledge, I feel armed by it.

I want so badly to publish novels. If I didn’t want it this much, I would have given up long ago.

But I refuse to give up on my dreams. I refuse to let my fears rule who I am and what I do.

will be a writer.

I am going to start today, by committing to writing one short story every week. I just found a website (Reedsy) that sends out writing prompts every week that you can respond to, which will enter you in a contest to win $50 and be published on their website. I will either link them here so you can follow my progress and read my stories or, if they are hopefully published, link you to where you can read them on Reedsy.

Don’t give up on your dreams. Fight your fears. It’s worth it.

Be An Agent For Change

Recently, a friend of mine stopped coming to a regularly scheduled social event I organized. I had seen it coming for some time, but it was still frustrating and sad. He missed several meetings without explanation and got angry with me when I confronted him about it. Now he’s ignoring me entirely.

It got me to thinking about powerlessness (I swear this is going to be a positive post overall, just bear with me!). One of the most important, and most frustrating, lessons that I’ve learned in life is that you can’t make anyone do anything, no matter how much you want them to.

My life has been fraught with these kinds of frustrations. I keep trying to encourage someone I’m very close to to go to a psychiatrist for her anxiety, but she refuses. I keep trying to encourage another person to take control of his life and pursue his dreams, but he lacks the motivation. Another to break up with their partner who they’re dissatisfied with, but she keeps getting cold feet. Another to go to a psychologist for his crippling depression, but he insists he’s fine.

This lesson was really beat home with my alcoholic ex last year. I wanted so much for him to stop drinking. I tried everything: screaming, crying, threats, pretending the problem didn’t exist. And nothing worked. It took me a long time to realize that nothing worked because it wasn’t about me. It took me a long time to realize that he wasn’t choosing alcohol over me, even the time he got so drunk he missed his flight and my birthday party or all the times he lied about his drinking and sabotaged our relationship. There was nothing could do to get him to stop.

If the strength of me wanting my loved ones to do (or not do) these things was enough to get them to change, believe me, they would have done so.

But it’s not about me. Nothing I can do will ever get them to change. Nothing you can do will ever get anyone you love to change.

There is something you can do though. You can take care of yourself.

Obviously this is a good goal in and of itself. But that’s not all. Being positive and taking care of yourself inspires others to do the same. Too often in our lives we are terrible role models for others. People brag about how little sleep they got, how long they spent in the office, or how much they hate their jobs. They don’t brag about getting a full 8 hours, having a good work life balance, or loving them. But why not?

Since I’ve been boxing and trying to be healthier, I’ve noticed it’s inspired others to do the same. My dad worked out with me the other day when the boxing gym was closed. My mom finally got the orthodics she needed in her shoes so her feet wouldn’t be in pain.

When you take care of yourself and do what you live, it makes a difference. You become a more positive person and treat others better. You motivate others to change. You become a source of inspiration. You become an agent for change.

Go out there and take care of yourself. Because you deserve it. And because it is up to us to make the world a more positive place.