On Cinco de Mayo I finished my third half-marathon. But you know something? Three years ago I hated running.
Anything was better than running. Running is hard. If I had to run for more than 15 seconds for any reason, then forget it. Need to catch the bus? I’ll take the next one, thank you very much. Zombie apocalypse? Guess I’ll have to be dinner for the undead.
So what changed?
Three years ago I was promoted at work, which meant more responsibility, more demands, and much, much more stress. I turned to exercise to burn off the tension.
I didn’t have money for expensive sports gear, and I didn’t have a car to get me to the outdoors. So I started running. It was fast and intense, and I only needed a good pair of shoes to hit the pavement.
Three years later, I registered for my first full marathon. I love the thrill and challenge of being in a race.
Before, I avoided running out of fear. It was uncomfortable, challenging, and I knew I wasn’t good at it. It required me to dig deeper into myself than I ever had.
It was something that other people do. Not thinking I had it in me, I never saw myself as a runner.
Boy, was I wrong.
This is how some closeted writers see themselves. They don’t consider themselves writers, yet they write a blog. Or they have an idea for a book that hasn’t been put to paper.
They think if they can’t write a certain way, then they aren’t writers at all. But you don’t have to write like other people. You just have to write like you.
But doing that can be a little terrifying for some, just like running a full mile was once terrifying to me.
So how do closeted writers stop holding themselves back? Here are a few tips
- Do Morning Pages. Julia Cameron talks about this in her book, The Artist’s Way. In it, she promotes the practice of doing Morning Pages: writing three pages every morning without an agenda. You don’t think, edit, or critique. You write every stupid, inane thought and get the ever-loving crud out of your head. That way when you sit down to write, the good stuff shines through.
- Make time. Easier said than done, right? We may lead busy lives, but we manage to make time for the things that are important. If you can make time for cleaning your house and watching a full season of Breaking Bad, then you can set aside an hour or two for writing.
- Accept your fear. Kind of scary, isn’t it? Bearing your soul on the page like that. Writing makes us vulnerable. But giving into that fear only feeds it. A little acknowledgment goes along way. Accept the fears you may have, whether that’s sharing your writing with others, making mistakes, or not having any ideas. Once we call that fear by its name and accept it, it becomes much smaller and less significant.
- Celebrate. Give yourself credit for the work that you did. The Critic is a nasty, vicious little monster that scuttles around in the minds of all creatives, writers included. If you spent forty-five minutes this morning doing morning pages, then you are a writer. If you write just one blog post each week, then you are a writer. Celebrate those small accomplishments. Trust me when I say that they add up to something bigger.
Writing is a challenge, even for those who are good at it. You may think these fears are shielding you, but they are only holding you back.