The truth is that this is not my first, nor second, nor even fifth attempt at writing a blog, much less writing a full novel. I am a product of an anxiety-ridden, terrified-to-fail generation who peaked in elementary school and no longer knows what we really want and what we remember getting praised for as a child.
Writing is a long game, and we are the generation of rapidly declining attention spans and the constricting weight of never being able to disconnect. Technology itself is designed to funnel our attention and bombard our natural defenses until we are too overwhelmed to completely shield against a barrage of marketing messages.
Many of those messages present themselves as designed to ‘help’ new and wannabe authors. Blogs and ads sport headlines offering short-cuts to guaranteed bestsellers or strategies for getting 5-star reviews before your masterpiece is even released. It’s, to say the least, exhausting. How can one succeed as a self-published author without a following? And how can you gain a following when you aren’t yet an author? And how can you even sit down to write when there is so. much. else. to. focus. on.
But let’s say you have the attention span of a master meditator and the work ethic of a drill sergeant. Even then, the fear of bad reviews, indifference, or maybe even success, can be paralyzing before you even pick up a pen. Suddenly there are a million other things you have to do, and how did you think you were going to be a writer anyway? Writers are innately super talented people who come out of the womb spitting ideas for pulitzer prize pieces…obviously not normal people like yourself.
And suddenly months have gone by, you haven’t gotten past the first page, and the shame of all you haven’t accomplished is setting in. But you’re still calling yourself a writer. And you’re still laying awake for hours writing stories in your head at night. And as petrified as you are to start writing, you’re also scared of not starting.
You might be thinking to yourself right about now…damn, this girl needs therapy. To which I say 1. I do indeed attend therapy (and fully believe that everyone should) and 2. Patterns fueled by shame, fear, and coping mechanisms aren’t quite that simple to break.
So where do we go from here? Personally, I decided to try a blog one last time – a blog more deeply personal, honest, and to put it bluntly, probably more useless than anything I have attempted before. I have spent many, many blogs blustering about strategy and ‘how to be a writer’ in a way that has made me feel both like a fraud and like the same bloggers whose headlines alone are enough to stress me out.
I have decided to work with where I am at now, posting short stories simply for the sake of encouraging myself to write – not for fame, money, legacy, or anything else my existential dread likes to demand I achieve RIGHT THIS MINUTE. I am doing my best to begin this blog with no expectations, to strip away my need to pretend expertise or success, and just write.