I’ve never fit the mold of what I thought a “writer” should look like. I never aspired to finish an award-winning novel, or even to write a damn novel. I was never the top student in my literature courses. I didn’t hide under the covers with a flashlight reading the classics deep into the night. In my mind, who I actually am is (and has always been) incompatible with my tragically-clichéd picture of what a “writer” should be.
I have, however, been writing since before I could fully grasp what it meant to be a ~writer~. I began my masterful work at the expert age of eight; I was gifted a plastic-bound Sanrio diary that had crisp, multi-colored pages and a tiny lock and key. As a fairly textbook introvert, I’ve turned to writing over the years as a release — for me, it is a personal form of therapy and a way to reflect. Things changed, however, when I briefly moved to Italy and decided to publish written accounts of my comical and emotional experiences there. It was then that I realized that I, the science and math girl, was actually a half-decent writer and that my (very few) readers actually enjoyed what they were reading.
This experience overwhelmed me in the most positive way, and my romanticized dream of one day becoming a writer surfaced. But in reality, even the slightest practical manifestation of this dream was met with massive, overpowering waves of self-doubt. I was so far from the journalism and creative writing world that I found it laughable and embarrassing that I would even consider pursuing writing. My dream remained stagnant because I could not get over the fear that no one would read my stuff. My head swarmed with the concern that I had nothing to write about, and that my normal, mundane life couldn’t be nearly as interesting as my innately exciting, culturally-rich experience abroad.
So I let my dream go. Once I left Italy, I didn’t even bother trying. I just put the goal to rest.
That dream, however dormant, has never passed into extinction. Last year, I stumbled upon The Financial Diet, and subsequently began to discover other blogs with writing inspiration, and my fervor to write came back with a vengeance. The more I read, the more I realized how misinformed my concept of a writer was. Slowly but surely, the image of the wise, bearded author clad in a tweed jacket, tacky elbow patches, and a pipe began to shatter. The writers that I was encountering were hard-working, relatable, and *gasp* normal people who wrote about what they knew. What set them apart was not necessarily their creative writing courses, nor their journalism degrees (though I’m sure that helps!), but rather their hustle, their determination, and their confidence in their own abilities. It was the perfect remedy for pushing the romanticized images out of my head.
We are fortunate enough to be living and working at a time when one’s portfolio can be enough to land them a job in their field. Of course, this is not the case with all professions, but it can be the case in terms of getting published on the internet. As someone with no educational background in journalism or creative writing and no practical experience in the field, the toughest part for me is actually getting started. But when I think about it, the same is true for anyone trying to pursue a new passion. When I consider the amount of freelance writing resources and side gigs available on the internet, though, I must begrudgingly admit that there is no excuse. The only thing getting in my way is me. Now, this is not to say that I will suddenly become a lucrative and renown writer in a matter of months. I frankly think that might never happen. But who’s to say that writing can’t become a reliable and sustainable side hustle? Who’s to say that I can’t turn this passion into something more than just a hobby?
The new year is seen as an opportunity for many of us to hit the reset button, to recharge, and to reassess where we are going in life. I have decided that 2016 is the year that I will stop being afraid to write. I will not put myself on hold just because I’m scared that I won’t succeed. This is the year that I will include tags in my WordPress blog posts, even if that means subjecting my work to the judgment of strangers. This is the year I will stop being scared to expose my words to other people. 2016 is the year where I will seek out writing side gigs, and the year I will suck it up, and submit my pieces through submission portals.
Impostor syndrome is real, and I think when I deny myself the opportunity to submit my work, I’m just pushing what I want farther off into the distance. But writing is a muscle, and I need to exercise it. Here’s to all the writers and freelancers who have been open and transparent about their journeys and have inspired the un-inspirable, which is what I thought I was. And here’s to a year where we stop getting in our own ways and start taking steps toward where we actually want to be.
Raquel is an aspiring writer and avid coffee drinker who dabbles in tech and lives in Portland. You can follow her (many) feelings at raquelalina.wordpress.com.
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