Three weeks ago I wrote my first story on Medium. I almost wrote it on a whim, badly edit it, published it and sent the Friend Link through email to several friends. I am not present on social media (I cancelled my Facebook account a year ago and I have never been on Twitter) so I don’t have a social media outlet to distribute my words with the world. All of my friends replied saying how much they enjoyed and related to my story and mentioned they had shared the story on their Facebook pages. My first story was not chosen by Medium curators to be distributed on any topics. I got nine claps; all from friends.
If you are a freelancer or a “serious” writer you may think I suck and I should stick to my daytime job. Don’t worry, I am not quitting my job unless I win the lottery, and I don’t play the lottery.
When I published my first story I had one goal, to conquer my fear of writing and letting others see what I wrote.
I never realized I had any love for writing until few years ago. I didn’t start writing then.
I spent my childhood thinking I was not a creative person. That trait was inherited by my middle sister. I still feel that way. Throughout my school years I excelled at math and science classes. I majored in Environmental Sciences. I create and analyze spatial data and make maps for a living. I don’t particularly enjoy any type of crafts.
Seven years ago I started a crappy food blog; I do enjoy cooking. I published about once a week. I didn’t spend a lot of time learning how to create a website that could be monetized and I am not a great photographer. I enjoyed putting together witty posts and sharing a story with each recipe I posted. I started getting a feeling in my gut that I enjoyed typing things I wanted to say whether they were stupid or not. Most people can relate to stupid. My blogging career didn’t last very long. I didn’t commit to it.
I didn’t start writing on a regular basis at that time either. I talked about writing with friends but I never took the time to do it.
A year ago I started getting a slightly bigger itch for the craft and I decided to take a class in Creative Writing at the university where I work since I can take classes for free. There are perks on being employed by someone else. I felt slightly out of place in that class, not only because I was old enough to be everybody’s mom, including the instructor, but also because I didn’t feel my writing was good enough to be shared with anyone. For some reason I felt 19 and 20 year old students were brighter, smarter and better with words than me. None of them were English major nor had any perceivable skills that I didn’t have. Some of them were excellent with words, but at the end of the day, all of them were the same human species I was. Nobody was (is) better than anyone else. I did have something they didn’t have, twice the amount of years of life experience. A lot of these students wrote about death (I was confused about that). I wrote about relationships in a way I didn’t think any of them had experienced.
For some reason during that class we didn’t write as much as I thought we would considering it was a (ahem) writing class? We read a lot of short stories and poetry and discussed their meaning. I don’t enjoy poetry.
My itch for writing got a little bigger. Still, I didn’t start writing, nor did I take another writing class afterwards.
I started reading about writing. I discovered Medium. I enjoy reading Medium’s posts immensely. I often read stories about how to become a writer. If there is one bullet point emphasized throughout all those stories is that reading about writing does not make you a writer. Writing makes you a writer (duh!)
Still, it took me two months to write anything.
Why did it take me so long to write anything? Because I am scared.
I am scared of getting out of my comfort zone and doing something I am not “good at” based on some criteria I have made up in my mind. Maybe I am not good enough to write for the New York Times, but I am good enough to write for me. I know I am good at my daytime job. I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I am comfortable with my professional career. Writing is new to me. I don’t know the rules (are there rules?). I don’t know how to pitch a story or whatever else you need to know to do this. Heck English is not even my first language!
Failure scares me. What would I be failing act exactly if I wrote something? I am not completely sure.
I am scared of being judged. My head tells me I don’t have anything interesting to say that other people may possibly want to read about. What makes something interesting but something you think is interesting?
I tell myself I don’t have time to write. I have a full time job, I am a single parent of a human, a dog mom and a stupidly large yard that takes over an hour to mow. I like to watch tv, read, socialize, drink wine, hike and camp. I make time for all of those things. I decided I can make time to write too. It is all about priorities. I started getting up an hour earlier every morning. It sucks. I am more of an 8–9 am person than a 5 am person.
This is my fourth story on Medium. My third story had 48 claps, none of them from my friends. That story was chosen to be listed under the “Relationships” topic. I was SO excited when that happened. So far I have made $2.28 dollars. It is the most exciting money I’ve ever made. I can buy a plain cup of coffee at Starbucks; plain, no lattes, cappuccinos or anything fancy. Those are for people that make $4 per story.
Money is not the point of this. I am not waking up at 5:30 am and writing to change careers, though that would be kinda awesome. I am doing it because I want to. Because I want to be better at it. Because I want to get out of the square box I’ve been living in and do something I ACTUALLY want to do but for some idiotic reason I am scared of doing.
I hope to get better at this. I hope you too become a tiny bit less scared of doing something you are afraid of doing.