I started making up stories when I was young.
I think, in some way, it’s something we all do once our imaginations kick in. We pretend. We take what we know from our world and bring it to life.
I don’t remember when I started actively writing them down. I can recall getting my first “diary” when I was six, and writing in that every once in awhile. But for a long time, Beanie Babies and Barbies were my storytelling tools, the channels through which my ideas flowed.
When I first started writing, I just thought it was something fun. I didn’t realize until much later that for me, writing wasn’t just a hobby. It was an impulse. If I’d tried to resist it, I would have failed.
Decent or terrible, I wrote story after story. Even as I improved, I sometimes wondered if other people would think they were good. But I didn’t really care.
Until the first time someone suggested I write — and publish — a book someday.
I loved to read. But I’d honestly never considered the possibility of becoming a “real” author myself.
But once the idea had been presented to me, I couldn’t put it down.
And for a long time, that really hindered my creativity. Because I could no longer sit down to write freely. Not without thinking, “I have to try getting this published. It has to be good. No — it has to be flawless.”
It took years for me to finally decide that kind of pressure wasn’t worth it.
Getting a book published is not my end goal. My end goal is to write a book that I am proud of, and believe could get published, if I felt like taking it to the next step.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t still picture holding my own book in my hand someday every time I pick up another author’s. It’s fun. It inspires me to keep writing, to see how far I can reach. Maybe someday I’ll publish a book for real. Maybe not.
What matters more — what matters most — is that I’m writing things that make me happy.
Everyone wants to make money creating things. Everyone dreams of being able to wake up every morning and doing only the things that make them feel alive.
But if you aren’t truly happy doing the writing thing, you’ll never achieve any of your dreams.
Once I decided that not getting published wouldn’t be the end of the world, wouldn’t dim my love for writing in any way, I felt less pressure to get published. I enjoyed writing more. And I didn’t feel anxious or guilty every time someone asked when I was going to do it.
Now, I just say, “Maybe someday. We’ll see.”
It feels good to feel free.
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Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.