Facing My Fear of Fiction

This may come as a shocker, but one of the main reasons I started this blog was because I love to write. However, when I was growing up my ambition was never to be a blogger. I wanted to be a novelist.

Blessed with a passion for reading, the first time ambitions of becoming a novelist crossed my mind was after finishing the third of fourth Harry Potter novel. I remember being absolutely entranced by the world J.K. Rowling created and amazed that I could be transported into it through the mere act of reading words.

It wasn’t just Harry Potter, though. While I admired Rowling’s ability to create a magical world that felt so real, I also became captivated by the way so many authors had perfected the craft of writing. The eloquent prose of Jane Austen. The terse but vivid descriptions given by Hemmingway. The work of authors who could, through the use of words, turn even the most ordinary scenario into something memorable. The more I read, the more I felt the desire to craft my own beautiful prose.

Despite my fascination with both the craft of writing and the stories that come from it, I never gave my dreams of becoming a novelist a real shot. Every now and then I would have a surge of inspiration and try to create a story outline or even write a few paragraphs, but those moments were always short-lived. I never felt like my ideas were good enough or that I had the ability to write a cohesive story. Even more than that, I was scared that my dreams of becoming a writer would stay just that: dreams. I looked at all the authors that had inspired me and felt like there was no way I could ever come close to them. I was scared that I would try to do it and fail miserably.

Following the Fear

In the book “The War of Art,” Steven Pressfield talks about how strong feelings of resistance (fear) are usually signals pointing us in the direction we need to go. As someone who is deathly scared of spiders, I have a hard time believing that I want more eight-legged monsters in my life, but I do think there’s some truth in that idea, especially when it comes to the fear of failure. And in the case of writing, it’s clear to me that my fear is secondary to my feeling of passion. Unfortunately, I’ve just let the fear stop me from really acting on that passion.

Now that I recognize this, I’m going to start exploring the world of writing fiction. I’ll start small, of course. Maybe a short story every week or something like that. The important thing for me is that I be willing to dive into the fear, to take a chance and see where this desire to write can take me.

My Anchor

We all have a routine in our lives that helps us find peace and clarity, especially when the pressures of life start to bear down on us. For some, it’s a long shower, a walk in the park, a yoga session, or a little meditation. For others, it could be something more social like going to church or a support group. I discovered my own sacred routine about four years ago.

I got my first journal when I was 13 – a gift from my mom – and it mostly collected dust for the next few years. I saw very little use in self-reflection as a teenager, even if I desperately needed it at the time. And while I always had a knack for writing, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) was usually reserved for school essays and the occasional failed attempt at writing fiction.

It wasn’t until seven years later, after returning home from a semester abroad in Madrid, that I started to see the value in journaling. I was going through a lot of mental and emotional changes at the time, and I increasingly felt like I had no one to talk to about it all. The blank pages of a Moleskin notebook I had bought months earlier started to look like the only place I could express all of the noise going on inside my head. So I grabbed the notebook and my favorite pen, found myself a quiet place, and sat down to write.

It felt quite awkward at first. How was one supposed to start a journal entry? Were all my thoughts even worth putting down on paper? Who was I even supposed to write to? What if someone saw my writing and thought I was crazy? Eventually, I was able to push past all of those doubts and just start writing.

I don’t remember at what point journaling went from a desperate experiment to a consistent routine. All I know is that writing in that notebook quickly started to feel as natural as eating or drinking. It was the first time I could express all of the thoughts in my head without the fear of being judged. I could rave and rant and contradict myself, all with the knowledge that my words were for me and me alone.

My journaling sessions are usually accompanied by some kind of caffeinated beverage.

I soon found that journaling was more than just a way for me to get things off my chest in a judgment-free environment. It became a way for me to truly understand myself. For years I had felt like a victim of my constantly fluctuating thoughts and emotions, with no way of understanding what was going on in my head. Journaling allowed me to put all of the confusion on paper, and from there I could start to make sense out it.

Fast-forward almost four years and you would be hard-pressed to find me anywhere without my journal close by. Journaling is so many things to me. It’s one of my greatest sources of comfort in times of distress. It’s the janitor for my mind, helping me get rid of all the clutter and put things in their correct place. It’s the place I get to feel fancy by practicing my cursive. It’s a running record of all the changes I experience over time. Most of all, though, it’s the ritual that keeps me grounded on a daily basis, and I don’t know what I would do without it.

Narrowing My Focus

Before coming to Spain this year I took a step outside my comfort zone and started a Youtube channel. I made about 40 videos in 7 months, and I really enjoyed it for the most part. However, my desire to create new videos has pretty much disappeared over the past two months. I thought it might just be a temporary motivational slump, and that maybe doing some filming during my recent trips to Prague and Bucharest would help renew my motivation. No such luck.

So after giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided to stop making videos for the moment and focus more on my writing.

Writing has been one of my biggest passions for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never devoted a serious amount of time to it. Trying to film and edit videos every week made that even more of a challenge, and I think this decision will allow me to really turn pro in the one area of my life that means the most to me, something I’ve avoided for most of my life. My hope is that I can now start putting out a few well-written blog posts each week. I also want to push myself to explore different types of writing, like travel articles and even short stories.

Of course, I do have some doubts about this decision. Will I regret not continuing on this path? Am I just giving up because it’s getting hard? I can’t say for sure that those doubts are unfounded, but there’s something inside telling me that this will be the best thing for me. And if I’ve learned anything during the past few years, it’s to have a little faith in my own intuition.