I finished writing my first book about a year ago now. I didn’t even tell anyone I was writing. Only my husband and a couple of very close friends knew that I was doing it. Too many times before, I had tried and failed so I knew better than to make a big deal out of it. But something was different this time. Something happened that changed the way I wrote forever. I stopped thinking about what people might think if they saw my work. I stopped going back over what I had written and editing myself to a standstill. Mostly, I stopped trying to be someone I wasn’t.
Most writers will tell you that an important part of being a great writer is reading non-stop and I certainly think that’s true. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without all of the books I’ve read over the years. Reading makes you a better writer, period. Something that is seldom discussed, though, is the fact that when you read great writing, you compare yourself to it relentlessly. You read greatness and want to embody that so much that your work changes from what is really authentically you, to what you think others want to hear. At least, that was the way for me. There are a lot of reasons I stopped doing this. I can attribute it to being a little older and wiser, or the fact that I learned to push through without editing, and lastly, to meditation, which has become a huge part of my writing process (I could write a separate blog or book on that topic alone!).
This book was different because I did something very simple: I just wrote. I wrote until the pages were riddled with underlined red words, bleeding through the screen and then, instead of fixing them, I wrote some more. Daily I had to fight that inner voice inside of me that said I should be doing other things. That nasty voice that said I was wasting my time. Imposter syndrome is real, ladies, and if you haven‘t heard about it, google it now. It’s probably the reason you don’t think you belong where you are. The reason why you think you’re fooling everyone into thinking you have your life together. I shouldn’t just single out women, though; I know for a fact that men often feel this way as well. Maybe we all do. Maybe it’s part of being human that we all think someone else has all of this shit figured out more than we do. But here’s what, they actually don’t.
I struggle to write blogs because I really hate to give advice, at least in this capacity, even though I know that’s really what most blogs are about. The older I get the more I realize that we all have such vastly different circumstances, so many different variables in our lives that it’s not really fair for me to tell anyone what do. Not to mention the fact that today I might feel on top of my shit, but tomorrow it could be completely different. My point, though, is this: I failed over and over again and no one knew about it. I failed not because I didn’t have the support or the talent, but because of my own inner voice which told me I couldn’t do it.
The most successful people I know have these same doubts about themselves. They second guess, they worry, and they feel inferior. But yet they persist. They find a way through, even though most people never understand what actually goes on in their heads. Just the other day my friend, a wildly confident and successful nurse of almost 15 years, was telling me how she felt this way in her newest job as a flight nurse. You would never think it to look at her. She’s a gorgeous, articulate, tattooed, badass mother and wife who radiates confidence. But yet here she is, doubting herself, having to psyche herself up each day to push through and conquer that inner voice that’s telling her she can’t.
I find comfort in this not because she’s struggling, because I hate that for her. I hate to think of someone like her not knowing what they have to offer the world. I find comfort in it because it reminds me that we all go through times of doubt. Times where we don’t feel like the best versions of ourselves. But what I know is this: everything in life is fleeting. Nothing stays very long and realizing that, adapting to that, is often what saves us. This, too, shall pass for her, for me, and for all of us.
The truth is that I might still fail. The probability of my book being a smashing success is a long shot, to say the least, but I finished it. I finished it and it’s moving forward to publication. For that, I’ve promised myself that I will be proud, and I am. I’m proud that I had the guts to try, regardless of the outcome.
I went from writing in quiet moments that no one knew about to letting a few people read my work, to releasing it to anyone who wants to read it. It’s terrifying, exciting, and is taking every bit of courage I have. Like I said, I don’t like to give advice, but I will say this: conquering your inner bitch who says you can't is intoxicating, exhilarating, and frightening. I highly recommend it. I might have to remind myself to do it again many times after this and that’s ok, too. I don’t have my life all figured out, but I know that no one else really does either, so I’ll be fine.