The other day, I approached my husband, Caleb. “I think I’m going to start a blog.”
He glanced up from what he was doing, and smiled knowingly. “Again?”
As long as I’ve known him (and indeed, even a few years before I met him,) I’ve been doing this dance. Start a blog, write a few posts, delete it all after a few months in a vent of frustration. Why?
Something I’ve always struggled with. It presents itself as many things: imposter syndrome, general anxiety, self-sabotage. But it all boils down to one thing: I doubt myself. I doubt my ability as a writer, even though it’s a skill I’ve been crafting since before I even picked up a camera. Granted, the fan-fiction I was writing at 11 years old wasn’t great. It was pretty terrible, actually. I would’ve had every reason to stifle my young voice. But for some reason, I was braver as a kid than I am now.
When I was first starting out, posting my sloppy prose on fanfiction.net, I wasn’t too concerned about who was reading it. Writing was fun. Its sole purpose was for my enjoyment. Reviews were nice and made me feel good, but that wasn’t the driving force behind every keystroke or hasty scribble in the margins of my school notebook. I loved the characters. I was enamored with the twists and turns I could create, the dialogue I could craft. My stories rarely had an outline; I would literally make things up as I went along. And back then, this wasn’t a problem. I prided myself on writing in a way that wasn’t at all linear—typing out the scenes I wanted to include and deftly weaving them together in ever-increasing complexity.
Now, when I sit before a blank screen or open notebook, I remember how effortlessly the words would flow. I would get lost in my work, often spending so many hours feverishly typing that my parents would hide my floppy discs and tell me to play outside. I would leave my lair grudgingly—but would also take a notebook with me, wandering around the backyard and drawing inspiration from my surroundings. My characters, always on some sort of adventure, would hack their way through the thick undergrowth in the forest behind my parent's house. They'd sit with me on a tree that was felled during Hurricane Gustav, and patiently wait for me to tell their stories.
I'm no stranger to writer's block. It can be worn down, slowly, over time. But when you stop working for it, as I have, it's akin to allowing a muscle to atrophy. Writing came to me so easily that I assumed it would be easy enough to pick back up... when life was a little less busy, when I'd gotten my degree, when Caleb and I had bought a house, when I'd finally finished that story outline. At some indistinct future date, I would write again.
This is why I've decided to start a blog:
Life will never allow time for me to sit with my thoughts, for words to flow. If I want to write, I have to make time and space for the words to well up and spill over. If I want to write, I can no longer treat it as an old habit that will come back to me, someday, in the indeterminate future. It is a skill that must be cultivated.