Thursday, December 18, 2014

How Writing Gave Me the Confidence to Try Anything

I'm very comforted by routine. Comfort zones are (were) my thing. Seriously. It used to take a lot to shake me out of my rut, and I was a huge proponent of "write what you know".

Except... then I wasn't.

About the time I started pursuing writing as an all-consuming passion seriously, I got an idea for a book that was impossible for me to write. The main character was male, first of all. And black. I am neither of those things.

For a long time, I lamented that I would never get to read the book I couldn't write, because no one else would ever write it. And then I decided, oh, what the heck. I'll just write a chapter. Maybe two. Thirty pages. 100.

Oh crap. I wrote a whole, impossible book.

Writing that book, whether it ever sees the light of day or not, was literally a life-changing event. It gave me the confidence to go from "no, I don't do that" or "no, I CAN'T do that," to "okay, I'll give it a shot."

And my life hasn't been the same since.

I love art; whether it's writing or building things or learning calligraphy or cross-stitching or music or .... so on and so forth. But I never considered myself an artist. After all, I couldn't draw, or paint, or sculpt worth a darn, so I was just a poser. An art poser.

Except-- the more I try these impossible things, the easier they become. The more I do, the more I can do. I'm not saying I'm great at everything, but I don't suck as much as I thought I did at everything, either. Last year, I started painting. I just finished my first-ever sculpture and while it's not great, I'm still really, really proud of it. I still haven't taken up drawing, but calligraphy is like drawing with letters, and while I still have a lot to learn, I'm pleasantly surprised with how it's gone so far.

Every book I've written since that pivotal manuscript has been impossible somehow. Some challenge present in the structure or the plot or the characters or the writing itself, something that I would have said before was "not me".

But then I realized that I am still trying to figure out exactly who I am, and I probably will continue to do so my entire life.

And I am so excited for all the things I thought I couldn't do before that, it turns out, I can.

And so can you. Don't let the impossible things stop you, because if you give them a try, you just might surprise yourself with what you're really capable of.