On Being Intimidated To Start

Sunday writing with @archiveslove
For my 30th birthday I made a resolution to start taking concrete steps towards my lifelong goal of being a writer. Besides all the research, outreach, planning and making connections that it entails, it also means sitting down, collecting my thoughts, and actually producing writing.

It feels incredibly self-indulgent, especially because I am also in graduate school and work full time, to write without a specific deadline or with an end result in mind. It seems like a real luxury to dwell in and focus on my own creativity. It’s scary to respect my ideas and creative impulses and take them seriously enough to give them time in my life. It’s ironic, because in my professional life I often act as a cheerleader or coach for artists, encouraging them to take their artistic ideas and careers seriously enough to push them to the next level. I also edit their grant proposals and project narratives and spend much time giving them feedback on their writing.

Homemde croissant, mint lemonade, journal

I’m at the beginning of a new decade and have a clear goal for the end, which is to be a writer in no uncertain terms. Deep down I know that only goal that has ever mattered to me and is the one that I will think about when I assess my life to see if I achieved what I hoped to. I’ve spent the past decade of my life ensuring my career as an arts administrator and I feel proud of that. However, as I spend my work days encouraging artists to trust in their visions it’s difficult to turn around and afford myself the same trust. I think these artists have given themselves the self confidence, and the permission, to trust in what they make and take it seriously. It’s hard to give myself the same permission. It’s much simpler to dwell on my own frustrations or feel like my goals are out of reach.

However, my goals will always be out of reach if I don’t start writing. If I don’t take the first steps to get organized, take a deep breath and push myself into the unknown, how will I even know what I want is possible?

Typing friend.

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12 thoughts on “On Being Intimidated To Start

  1. If it helps, consider it an investment in yourself. Pay it forward kind of thing, investing a certain word-count a day in your goal. Good luck!

  2. Excellent goal, Eleanor. And now, you just have to sit down and do it! Everyday! (or perhaps, every other day, with grad school and work and the occasional play day). Good luck, friend!

  3. i don’t have any problem with the writing/creativity, it’s just the self-promotion, self-marketing etc. that now comes with the territory if you want to get published. it’s so exhausting, you have to sell yourself everywhere now – to get a job, to get published, on your online personals AAAAAAHHHHHH. I have a book (novel) out right now at a publisher for review and it’s just a waiting game. Meanwhile I feel like I keep having to send it out to agents (I myself worked in a literary agency as first an assistant and then a short-lived agent – decided to writer rather than represent others, somewhat like you). I did this similar process of constantly creating and not wanting to do self-promos with music for many, many years, and i just don’t know if i can go through it all again, but i believe in my book so much!
    Eleanor, what kind of writing do you want to do?

    • Silver, thank you so much for your thoughts and your comment. I agree, it is hard and exhausting to do all the promotion! I feel that way about my band too… but I also feel more comfortable with marketing and self-promotion – there’s a system to it that feels rational to me, so I know how to approach it. With writing and “selling” my writing it’s personal and because it’s something I have wanted to do my whole life it feels very weighty. In terms of the kind of writing I want to do, I’m primarily interested in nonfiction, both critical and journalistic and personal and memoir based. Good luck with your novel! Keep us updated.

  4. I’m with you on this. I’ve been writing consistently, on major projects, for a few years now, and at least once I day I will read something by a published writer who is so excellent and I will seriously consider quitting because how am I ever going to be as good as that person? It’s very intimidating, but the only way the do it is to actually do it. Sounds so obvious when I write it out like that but a lot of us have trouble with that, because it is so intimidating.

    An unintended side effect of having the word ‘write’ tattooed on my wrist is that I have extra motivation to keep on keepin’ on. After all, it would be pretty dumb to have that tattooed on my body but not actually WRITE.

    • Thanks, Caitlin! I like your tattoo, what a cool idea! I met a writer tonight who said that when he is writing he likes to pretend there are no other writers in the world to keep from being intimidated. Sometimes I feel like I need to do that too, but I highly value knowing other writings and writing in community – it’s really more about trusting ones voice and pushing through!

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