I’ve been dealing with the effects of the imposter syndrome for the last few years, and the closer I get to finishing my novella, the stronger it becomes. While I was going through the last of my notes, I had to fight the urge to delete everything. I hated it, all of it. Instead of destroying my work, I knew I had to escape. I finally took a moment to step away from myself and went to the beach.
Since the ocean ate the beach, I watched my daughter run up and down the sand dunes, leaving nowhere else to go. The wind blew through our hair, and the salt stuck to our faces. We ran away from the waves as they crashed on the shore. She grabbed sticks and waved them in the air shouting nonsense at the birds trying to fly by, and not once did I think about who would care.
I wish I had the same sense of freedom when I wrote.
I don’t know when I started to give in to my fears instead of sharing everything I wrote. It wouldn’t matter how long or how short the stories would be. I’d post them to my website, tweet them and post them on Reddit, not giving a second thought what anyone would say.
Now I do. I rethink everything I write. I start short stories and abandoned them fifteen pages deep. I have gotten so bad that I delete the document leaving me no chance to revisit them. To be perfectly honest, I am highly annoyed and disappointed with myself. I would stare at my keyboard, lamenting over writer’s block, blaming it for the lack of fresh ideas when it was only me shooting myself in the foot.
On Monday, I started a new short story. I was excited that I busted out three pages without second-guessing myself. But as the week has progressed, I began to get mad at myself. The words started coming slower and slower, and I wasn’t hitting the word count I could make in the past.
That’s when I realized I had to let go. I had to stop comparing myself with who I was years ago. I used to have time to lay on the couch and spend hours creating a world for people who don’t exist. Now I find myself spending most of my time thinking about two little ones and what we’re going to do next, do we have to go to the doctors, did we forget about a school project, is it going to rain canceling park time leaving me blindsided on an inside activity.
I’m not the same writer I used to be, and I have to accept that things have changed. The ideas might come slowly, but they are still coming. There’s no faking creativity. I have to remember to embrace the process. Even if it’s uncomfortable at the moment. Eventually, it’ll become familiar and feel right.
If not… there’s always the ocean to remind me to be free.