There was a moment in your life, whether you consciously remember it or not, when a story first called out to you begging to be written.
You read a book, heard an anecdote, watched a movie or a documentary or a show, and you had this sudden thought: “I want to tell a story like that.”
Chances are you one day came across a story that changed the way you thought about something in your world. And even if it didn’t happen right away, at some point you realized that among all the other reasons you wanted to tell stories of your own, you very much wanted to tell a story that changed the way someone else thought about something in their world the way that one story did for you.
This is how dreams are born. They’re always inspired by a dream someone else made come true.
You didn’t just want to tell a story, though. Eventually, you actually started trying. You wrote. You drew. You acted things out — in your head or outside of it. You stopped dreaming, and you started creating.
But it was nothing like you thought it would be. And maybe that’s okay.
Even for people who have been writing for years, storytelling doesn’t always come easily.
Sure, there are always parts of a story that seem to leap off the page as you write them, poking and scratching at you until you write them down. But there will be just as many moments, if not more, when all you can seem to do is pace back and forth in your office and think: “What now? How do I move this story forward? How do I connect these dots? How do I finish it?”
This isn’t just your self-doubt or underdeveloped confidence talking. It’s also the nature of creativity. Stories don’t come out in the order or moments we want them to. Ideas are stubborn little things, and the stories they grow into aren’t always in love with being told what to do, or when or how to do it.
At times this can make it seem like you’re just not good at this whole writing thing. You’ve experienced so many finished stories that it’s often hard to remember every writer has to put hours upon hours of time and energy into finishing the stories they start.
Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
I know it’s easy to think all your hard work will never pay off and you’d save a lot of time and energy if you just quit now. Maybe you already have. Maybe you’re still trying to decide if the guilt you’re experiencing after giving up comes from the fact that you actually really wanted this or just that other people expected you to achieve it.
If writing really is what you want, you can still make it happen.
It might not happen as quickly as you want or in the exact way you originally wanted. But things rarely do.
If you’re tired and want to give up, maybe it’s simply time for a break. Maybe you don’t have to stop writing forever. Just for now.
And if you’re feeling hopeless because you’re just not confident enough in your ideas to keep pursuing the “fun” ones, remember that all writers start out having zero idea what they’re doing. You’re going to have so many bad ideas and embarrassing first drafts that you’ll forget most of them eventually.
But the good ones? You’ll remember those. It just sometimes takes a handful of less than ideal tries before you find a story you truly get along with.
Don’t give up. Not if you truly believe your story can change someone’s life.
If you’re the only one who can tell it, it’s up to you to do just that.
Take your time. Take deep breaths.
But get those words out. Do the best you can. Make something that matters. You deserve it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.