I wonder if this is what it feels like to be paralyzed. Alright, maybe that is a bit dramatic, but I feel like I’ve been staring at a blank sheet of paper for over 20 years. I was in college when I first had an inkling that I was supposed to write. “I think there is a book in me,” is how I first described it. I never imagined as that idealistic, over-confident 20-year-old that more than two decades later the same nagging feeling would haunt me with nothing to show for it. Sure I blogged for a while back a few years when blogging was a novelty, but like many people, I gave up my Google Reader and my motivation when our collective attention span shrunk to 140 characters. I didn’t care to read much of the blogging fodder out there anymore and figured if I wasn’t into them, then they wouldn’t be into me either.
It’s the concept that has paralyzed me. I’ve always felt like I needed the “killer idea” for a book. What is it I’m supposed to say? What could I add to the conversation that hasn’t already been said? What would catch the eyes of publishers and make me a star?
It’s no wonder I haven’t written anything.
Still, I think I’m supposed to write.
Though I’m not sure anyone who knows me would actually use this word to describe me (it’s not how I usually think of myself), I think there is a bit of an artist in me. My medium is words and sentences and an over-arching idea that leads to a reflective thought. When I finish what I consider to be a well-written piece, I can sit back and stare at it for a good, long time the way one might study a painting or a sculpture. I feel like a creative when I write. It stirs something within me that makes me feel alive and satisfied even though I know I’m not particularly good at it yet.
A while ago I read Anne Lamott’s book on writing, Bird by Bird, and a few chapters in I realized I’ve had it wrong all this time. I thought the goal was a book that would get published that would impact dozens or hundreds or thousands of people. It’s my perspective that has paralyzed me. I’ve been aiming for the wrong goal.
The truth is, the chances of getting published are slim. The odds of publishing a popular book are only slightly better than winning the lottery. Waiting for the “perfect idea” would in all probability leave me staring at a blank sheet two more decades from now. So I’m changing my perspective. I’m moving the target.
I’m going to write for the pure pleasure of writing. I’m going to write because it helps me take steps in my own spiritual journey. I’m going to write because I want to be a writer. Sure, I hope these words can be used for a purpose outside of myself, but I will simply type them as an offering to God and ask him to bless them in any way he sees fit. Well, that and a little Facebook marketing.
So with this new blog I’m starting a new journey as a writer even if it is an adventure I traverse by myself. At least I won’t be paralyzed anymore.