Being Self-Conscious Should Never Stop You From Creating
My greatest obstacle when it comes to writing seems to be my self-consciousness. Though I’ve written more in the last two years than the rest of my life combined, I still feel, from time to time, hesitant to call myself a writer. I’ve read style guides and classics; dozens of books clutter my room with business cards and straw wrappers between the pages. In other words, I should feel confident in my ability to tell a yarn; write something that’s worth reading. The truth is; I’m usually too scared to do it. I’m scared to discover I can’t think of a plot that’s original or create a character as real as myself. But being scared is a waste of time and leads to even greater problems, like ulcers and a Republican-led Senate. For that reason, I’m writing this to make the claim that you should never be intimidated to create.
Your idols feel/felt the same way
Being self-conscious about your craft is natural. For example, some of the greatest artists to fill our libraries and museums felt like frauds, or, at the least, felt inferior to their idols. Too often, this inferiority leads to procrastination. Instead of sitting down and writing I’ll read more because, yeah, that’s what all the greats did: they read until their eyes were red, and their lower backs ached. But reading is only beneficial if there’s an honest agreement that it will help you write. If reading Woolf or Chekhov makes you self-conscious, or feel as though you’ll never be able to write something as profound, then you’re cheating yourself out of having a craft. And, in my opinion, everyone must have some form of a craft that helps define who they are.
I can’t be scared or anxious to practice the thing I love, which is writing. Being intimidated to write because I’m self-conscious is not an option. As a writer, I have to write. I know I’ll never be as good as F. Scott Fitzgerald, but that’s not why he wrote his novels. His intentions weren’t to set a standard that must be equaled or surpassed, his intentions were to show Zelda he was hopelessly in love with her.
If you have a passion, a love, a frustration, use your craft to reach a cathartic revelation that you do have something worth saying. As with religion, what you’re taught and what you read is in vain if you don’t put it into action. Yes, it’s important to read and learn how to become a better writer, dancer, yogi, etc., but you’re not any of those things if you don’t physically practice them. So grab your moleskine notebook, find a sacred fig tree to sit under, and write until you’ve reached that revelatory moment when you’ve said what your heart or mind needed to say.
The point of this brief post is never to let the process intimidate you to the point you don’t try. I’m an anxious person. For instance, last week I was sucking on GABA supplements to calm my mind – they’re disgusting and not worth the trip to Whole Foods. I find my anxiety to be another excuse to not do what I love. But, you see, that’s the wrong way of viewing it. My anxiety should be a driving force to write. If you’re serious about your craft, and it brings you happiness, then never let anything as superfluous as intimidation or anxiety stop you from doing it.
My challenge to all of you is to take the time to do that one thing you feel you’re constantly preparing for. Okay, be realistic about it. I don’t want to hear you broke your legs while trying to run a marathon on a week’s worth of training. Jokes aside, even if you don’t share it publicly, creating something, anything is a personal victory.
There will always be someone better, that’s life. But no one can tell your story. No one can speak the truth for you, which is why you should never be self-conscious to create in your way.