“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
The purpose of the book is to share our personal stories so that we can encourage fellow writers who might be considering quitting to keep going.
My contribution is called I’m a Writer, Damn It! and it’s a very personal piece.
Dave challenged us to really dig deep and write about something we haven’t revealed publicly before.
So I delved into some difficult childhood memories, and told a brief story of my life, including the times when I wrote and the fallow periods when I did anything but.
“The act of writing is itself an act of understanding. By putting pen to paper, you’re engaging in a very reflective and sometimes even confrontational practice of facing your own truth: everything etched within your soul.”
Dave Ursillo (Before You Quit Writing, Read This)
My intention was to let any struggling writers out there know that I too have struggled. I spent many years not writing and without much hope of ever achieving my creative dreams. I almost gave up. But I’m still here, writing, publishing and even getting paid for it.
One of the things that made this such a great experience was that Dave put this project together in a highly professional way, from bringing in illustrator Mars Dorian to create the cover, to hiring a professional editor to give each of us feedback on our contributions, to preparing publicity material.
As a professional writer and content creator for a variety of clients, I’m used to receiving feedback on my work, however it is a different matter when it’s something so personal.
It took me a day or two to digest the editor’s comments and to accept that making those changes would definitely improve the piece, such as being clearer and more transparent about what I was trying to express. It was a great thing to experience and has definitely made me think more carefully about how I write.
Breaking Through The Fear Barrier
The day before the book was due to be published, I read over my piece again and was suddenly seized with a terrible fear that what I’d written could upset my parents. I had never discussed some of those memories with them directly and I didn’t want to them to misinterpret what I had written.
I shared my fear with the other Literati Writers and got some very supportive responses and advice, which really helped. But the fear remained.
“FEAR is a bastard. He has this way of wrapping his cold, sinewy hand around your heart that takes your breath away, sends a chill down into your guts, and causes you to freeze up. He takes the joy you get from writing and ruthlessly smashes it to bits, making you second-guess your abilities.”
Jessica Glendinning (Before You Quit Writing, Read This)
I’ve read other writers and content creators talk about this type of fear gripping them, and the general consensus seems to be that this is what happens when you break out of your comfort zone and start sharing something real, something that truly matters, and that will actually be of value to others.
And maybe by writing about those negative experiences and sharing it publicly, I can finally escape their hold on me.
“As you dig, you will learn. And once unearthed, you can choose what to keep around, and what to let go.”
Dave Ursillo (Before You Quit Writing, Read This)
That’s something that makes sense to me as a writer, but is probably difficult for others to understand, especially if they find themselves entangled in my words without having chosen to be.
Dare Greatly and Do The Work
The fact is that what I’ve shared in my article is my own truth, of how I experienced and interpreted circumstances at the time they happened.
Perhaps those half-remembered moments from the past lack their proper context, and perhaps they are an unbalanced account of what really happened. But it is what came to me when I sat down to write.
“What’s left on the page is pure, unadulterated me. It’s not always pretty, but that’s okay. Neither am I. It’s not always funny or insightful. But whatever it is, it’s me. It’s a snapshot of myself. A little glimpse into my brain at the moment the pen hit the paper or my fingers hit the keys.”
Tom Meitner (Before You Quit Writing, Read This)
Either way, I will learn from this, and keep going. Because as Brené Brown suggests, you’ve got to Dare Greatly, and that means being vulnerable, taking risks and leaning into the discomfort that comes from baring your soul to the world.
And as Steven Pressfield says, you’ve got to Do The Work, and make a habit of sitting down to write, every day.
Whatever failings I may have, at least I’m doing both those things. This, I’m discovering, is what it’s like to be a writer.
It is free to download until Thursday July 12th 2013, and you don’t even need a Kindle to read it.
In an in-depth and honest conversation, Dave chats to Fabian and I about how writing helped him bounce back from depression and how he has carved out a career as a creative entrepreneur after leaving the world of politics behind.