Stop Being a Writer in Hiding: Rediscovering Your Writer Self

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I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Are Enough, hosted by Positive Writer.

I am a writer. You are a writer. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this.

And just like you, I sometimes suffer from torturous levels of self-doubt.  I haven’t published any books – yet. But I do have a couple of amateurish self-help books that were written years in the past and buried in the attic. I’ve also been writing a self-help blog for the past half a year. A blog I was putting off starting for the longest time because I was petrified of failure. 

After starting my blog, people contacted me to tell me how much they appreciated me sharing my stories and advice. It was only a handful of people, but let me tell you, when you have a message to get out and you’re being authentic, it’s the most freeing and amazing feeling in the world. 

No matter how rubbish you think you’re writing is, it will always entertain or help someone. And you can only get better, not worse.  Though if you never start, nobody can ever hope to be moved by your words or inspired by your inner world.

Looking back on my old work, I see grammatical horrors, and an inconsistent flow. It’s all too easy to listen to that voice from beyond the cobwebs of your mind that says ‘Give it up now. Throw away the pen. Nobody wants to read that hot garbage. Everyone will laugh at you’.  

That voice is meaningless. Poison. It will kill your dreams and stifle your voice if you give it so much as an inch. 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a writer. As a child I would sit at home writing stories in cheap spiral notebooks, or typing up a storm on the old-fashioned style typewriter which my parents bought me; you really had to hammer the keys to get the ink onto the paper. I used it so much that one Christmas, they surprised me with an electronic one and I was beside myself with excitement, my fingers soon dancing over the keys, page after page of prose whirring onto the paper. 

At school, I put my heart and soul into writing assignments, winning commendations for the stories I wrote in English. It was exhilarating to have my work read out to the whole class, and I felt proud. 

Then I got older. And the more of life’s traumas I experienced, the rarer and more incomplete my stories became. I became convinced that they weren’t good enough, even though my cousin would read them, transfixed, and beg me to write the next chapter. I never did. I would screw up entire pages of prose, rewrite it, then screw it up and rewrite it again, until the story got abandoned completely. 

Until recently, I would continue to write half stories, only to leave them behind until they become nothing more than a long-buried memory in Google Docs or on my hard drive. Over the years I’ve read dozens of books and magazines on writing. I formed a writing habit, but it still didn’t cure me of my endless need to perfect whatever I was working on. For me, perfectionism was another form of procrastination. As long as I was forever editing my work, I didn’t have to get it out there. 

Then something happened which drastically altered that self-defeating mindset that had poisoned my writing over the years. I rediscovered one of the horror stories I had written as a child.

The story was about an alien that came into my house one day and kidnapped my family, then I discovered the family dog could talk because she helped me to defeat the alien and rescue my family. It’s cringe-worthy and hilarious to read now, but ultimately, this story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. 

You see, back then, I was too young and innocent to let a lack of confidence hold back my imagination. My child-self simply put pen to paper and wrote whatever nonsense her brain had dreamed up, no matter how silly it sounded or how crazy the plot. 

It’s astounding and depressing how as I grew older, experiencing trauma and setbacks, my stories eroded alongside my self-confidence. 

For many years I’d been held back by my insecurities: I’ll never be any good, I’ll never write anything worthwhile, people will never care about what I write and will judge my work harshly. Yet nobody else had ever read this story. The cruellest judge of all was me.

Without a doubt I can tell you that your mind is the enemy of your pen. Whenever you put off another project, or another sentence, you are standing in your own way of success, letting doubt and fear gain the upper hand. 

But you’re worth more than that, aren’t you? You know you are. That’s why you have so many words racing around your mind. So many untold dreams. 

The words you keep locked in your mind are endless, just like your potential. 

Whenever I feel that self-doubt creeping back in, I still my mind and get back in touch with my inner child, locked up behind bars, still poised at the typewriter. And I start to write as if I were that fearless child again, simply getting anything and everything down on paper or my screen.

Just like I finally started my blog and gained several followers,  I brought down that old buried manuscript of the self-help book in the attic, and began to rewrite it with the knowledge and skills I’ve gained as a thirty-something writer. 

No longer am I a writer in hiding. 

Through getting back in touch with that eager and neglected inner-child who’s always wielding her pen and typewriter, never caring what others think, I’ve found that old buried confidence.

Because I am a writer.

So, what are you waiting for? Go unleash those ideas and share them with the world! Your words are worth it! 

The Key to Staying Motivated and Finding Success

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“Get a move on!” my husband raged at the car in front. “You’re already halfway out so you may as well go the whole way!” He was complaining about a car to his left which had half pulled out into the road we were on, but then decided not to go any further.

And this is exactly what happens to so many of us chasing success. We want the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We want to go where the grass is greener. To join that exclusive party of awesomeness where people are living their dreams while living it up.

But as soon as things get challenging, we come to a stop or retreat altogether.

I know how great and how easy it is to start something feeling so energised and motivated that the people around you wonder why the hell you’re smiling so much. Whatever project you take on, whether it’s a business idea, a book, or a habit you want to change, starts off easy. It’s new and exciting.

The real challenge is staying committed and keeping that level of motivation, even when the drive has deserted you. Because there will be so many days you want to do anything but what you know you should be doing.

You’ll have a bad day at work, cure it with a Netflix or gaming binge, and miss out on writing the five hundred words you intended for your book.

There will be days where life’s responsibilities have buried you, and all you can think of is that enticing bottle of wine you were trying to quit. 

Or perhaps your kids have worn down the last thread of your patience and that course you started has suddenly fallen to the bottom of your priority list.

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You think: I’ll write the chapter tomorrow. I’ll just study an extra two hours next week. I’ll go to the gym again when things have calmed down. I know I was trying to quit, but I’ve worked so hard and surely one drink/donut won’t hurt.

But tomorrow never comes.  Tomorrow becomes the dreaded ‘I’ll get to it one day’. Things never quite calm down enough. Before you know it, you’re back to before you even started. What an exhausting cycle!

To achieve anything in life, you can’t just go at it with a hammer one day and a plastic sword the next. You need to stay consistent. It helps if you have a strong ‘why’. Why is it you want to become a world-class football player, a prolific author, or a famous chef? Why is it you want to declutter your home? Why are you trying to quit drinking? Why are you trying to lose weight?

Once you know your reasons, you’ll want to identify the true culprit behind the never-ending cycle of starting, stopping, and retreating. Quite often, if you look deep enough, you’ll find that it wasn’t your boss, your kids or your house chores that was the problem, but fear.

And fear is a master of disguise, often masquerading as busyness or distraction.

Becoming successful with anything takes dedication, consistent hard work, and winning habits, and even then, you might fail and look stupid.  It’s so much safer and easier to hit snooze one more time on the alarm clock when you could be learning a new skill, or to binge Netflix with pizza when you could be breaking a sweat and losing the pounds you wanted. 

For years, my whole life was governed by fear and inaction – and those two things got together, had a party, got wild, and smashed my vision. I stayed stagnant for a whole decade, dreaming without doing.

It took years to pick the pieces back up and arrange them into something new. Years to change my mindset and transform a lifetime of negative beliefs and self-defeating attitudes.

But fear hates it when you take action, and the more you act, the easier it will become. Fear’s influence weakens and it will sit in the corner of that party, as soon as you unleash your power and take control of the music.

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You can’t half-ass any of this. Like the car at the start of this post, you’re either in or you’re out.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said, in his book ‘Total Recall’, “I was only wild when I was wild. When it was time to train, I never missed a session.”  In other words, his free time was scheduled and not an endless, all-consuming loop. He took himself seriously and went for his dreams at a blistering speed, never dropping his vision.  To him, time was treated as the precious and limited thing that it is.

I’m going to tell you one more crucial thing about keeping your motivation. The despair of staying where you are has to be torturous compared to the initial pain of committing yourself.

Staying in your 9-5 job must be infinitely more painful than the discomfort you would feel from getting up at 5am every morning to study for a new career. 

Putting on five more pounds from eating pizza and donuts must be a hundred times more agonising compared to the initial pain of changing your diet.

You need to decide that enough is enough. You can’t and won’t tolerate more of the same.

Before I became a minimalist, I was fed up of my drawers collapsing with the weight of the junk I kept. I couldn’t stand the organised chaos I had created for myself over the years.

And after a decade of flat-lining in my current career and lifestyle (despite many opportunities for growth) I decided to stop dreaming and take a big leap. I became a student again in order to change my direction and my life, this time, studying something I am passionate about instead of what I thought would be easy.

I take online courses and study almost every day. I read every day. I write every day. Because I am dedicated, because it’s exciting, because I’m obsessed, and because just one more year of waking up to the same old me is, quite frankly, unthinkable.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that dreams and goals can change and that’s completely normal. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, it just means you’re a living, breathing, human.

Some people (like me) have always known what they wanted to do, but also stumble upon something else along the way which ignites their soul. That’s also completely normal.

Everyone has their own definition of success so just go for whatever your heart tells you to do, and if you haven’t found your calling yet, don’t worry. Just take the time to be still, carry on living, try new things, and one day you will find it.

Once you find it, don’t let go. Don’t half-ass it. You have endless potential! The question is, are you in or out?

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Off the Beaten Path

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This week, I’m talking about daring to be different and letting go of the fear that stops so many of us from reaching our potential. I will refer to video games again because they’ve taught me some valuable lessons, so if you’re not a gamer, bear with me – what I’ve learned could help you, too. 

I’ve been playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild; a massive game about exploration. It’s been in my backlog for years, mainly because I couldn’t stand that you can go wherever you want in any order, and there’s no real structure on how you do things. Just as there are so many ways to progress, there’s so many ways to fail. 

I feared playing it. What if I go wrong? What if I fail? What if I get stuck? How will I know what to do next? Will I have wasted my time? 

It’s a hugely limiting mindset that’s not just stopped me from experiencing  award-winning video games, but living life to the fullest.

Anyway, I decided to give the game another try, and overcome this way of thinking. 

Surprisingly, I’ve found myself addicted (not unhealthily) and actively exploring the environment, even when the main quest is blinking on the humongous map. There’s always something to see, and always a reward or two for exploring an area.

There were times I’ve felt overwhelmed, but I kept playing anyway, determined to see all it has to offer. And I made tonnes of progress. That gave me the confidence to try another exploration type game called Hollow Knight. It’s popular with gamers, but I’ve shied away from it in the past because of the game not holding your hand and telling you where to go next. 

“Let go of that mindset and just explore,” my husband said when I started. And I did. I went against everything inside me that was screaming with the anxiety of not being guided down a specific path, and before I knew it, I was immersed and finding something new with every direction I went. 

Yes, I got my ass handed to me several times, but it was such an enjoyable experience that I found myself trying again and again until I beat certain enemies. 

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I stopped worrying about whether I was going in the right direction and started wondering what I would find in the next area. I was enjoying myself without being directed. 

What’s your enemy in life? Fear? Procrastination? Being a master of weaving excuse stories rather than the story you want to tell? Go ahead and beat it! There’s joy and excitement on the other side. 

In real life, I’ve always struggled and become very anxious when there’s no clear path or no guidance saying “do this/go here next.” Playing video games that took me out of that comfort zone has been a big stepping stone for me. 

Overcoming that anxiety and learning to guide myself is vital because I’m on the path to becoming a counsellor and want to own my own practice in the future. I want to feel more relaxed and confident in situations where nothing is certain. 

Because life isn’t certain. 

I’m not saying that you should play video games if you want to change your mindset, I’m saying that taking action and facing your fears has more power than you could imagine. 

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Since playing those games and fighting through that mindset,  I’ve also had a revelation about my writing. A lot of the writers block I get is down to feeling creatively blocked because with writing there are no rules per se. 

Just like with Hollow Knight, and Breath of the Wild, it’s about exploring and finding what works. It’s about letting go of fear of the unknown and turning it into excitement and curiosity. It’s about exploring off the beaten path. Trying something different. 

As Albert Einstein once said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 

It’s like boarding a plane to America, even though you’re trying to get to Japan.

Straying from the beaten path is crucial if you want to escape mediocrity and discover your true potential, yet so many of us stay stuck in jobs we hate, in toxic relationships, and with habits that no longer serve us. 

Most of society would have you believe that life is all about survival. Keeping your head down and not taking any risks. After all, staying on the well-worn path is ‘safe’. It’s far less scary than going off to explore that sparkling river of opportunity in the distance. 

It’s also the path to forgotten and lost dreams. Staying on that path can lead to you forgetting who you are, what you have to offer to the world, and what you truly find fulfillment in. By staying on the linear, worn path, you don’t get to see the sparkling river, the lush forest, or find the hidden treasure. 

So, don’t hesitate. Let go of your fear. Be adventurous. Leave the beaten path and follow the river instead. Who knows where it could take you? 

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