I love writing. I love injecting a personal story into the middle of an account about an observation, feeling, philosophy, or passion that is current in my life. When my writing lacks the connective tissue of an anecdote, my beloved friend and editor patiently sends it back wanting more. She can’t see the clashing of the narrators in my head.
She doesn’t know that my thoughts are my greatest adversary. They censure my memories. They weave within my brain plot lines of doubt. They create fantastical expectations. They remind me of my fear of failure. They challenge my ego. Who would want to read that?
To get out of my own way, I have to scale that wall of negative self-talk. Or silence it. Or befriend it, maybe poke fun at it.
Ten years ago, I sat with my friend, coincidentally an award-winning journalist and author, discussing the itchy, creative energy that was plaguing me. We sat close together on large beige netted chairs on the cedar porch which spanned the back of our home. The scent of ginger tea hung between us as we sipped and chatted. It was early summer so the pots of cherry tomato plants and mixed colourful annuals dotted the perimeter of the deck. My two dogs lay quietly at our feet, basking in the late June sunshine.
I had, days before, left my full–time coaching position at a consulting firm. The exit from the constructs of corporate life had me giddy with a sense of freedom and possibilities. Until she suggested that I start a blog. As my ego collided with my fear, my stomach lurched. I told her it was a good idea, even though I hated it. My friend wanted me to find my voice, through my pen. She wanted me to train, practice, and strengthen my writing muscles. She wanted me to build a discipline for my creativity. She told me I had something to say. Ten years later, I launched my website and blog.
My journey through the forest of self-made hurdles, detours, yeah–buts, and what-ifs was slow and unremarkable. I chose to build up my coaching practice so that I was too busy and didn’t have time. I chose to take writing course, after writing course, hoping for the transcendence to clarity and confidence so that I would produce a best seller. I chose to listen and believe the scathing storyteller in my head. You don’t know how to do a website and blog. You don’t know what to write about. Who would read it? What if it’s s*hit? If you don’t try, you can’t be labeled a failure. You can’t handle criticism and negative feedback. It’s not worth the effort and potential pain if you can’t get on Oprah and have an international book tour. Stay safe, it’s too much risk. The shame dialogue chimed in: who do you think you are?
I know that I am not alone in this inside-your-mind diatribe. I often work with successful business leaders who continually face-off against this inner trash talk. They know that by attending to it, by abiding by the negative energy, they are creating their own boundaries. They are reinforcing self-limiting beliefs. They are caving into the lies of their thoughts.
When I finally built my website and started my blog, it wasn’t because I had evidence or confidence that it would be successful. That I could write. That someone might read it. It’s because I no longer listened to the voice telling me not to risk, not to be vulnerable, not to try.
I stopped attending to threats and lies.
I chose a different perspective for my creative energy. If I don’t do it, I’ll never know if I can. I am letting go of needing to be a perfect and fantastic writer. I am writing for the joy of the process. If it’s crap, I’ll be ok. If not now, when?
These are the answers I give the critic in my brain. This is how I move forward.
At least, that is my experience.