The “Adulting” Project: The Self-Flagellating Writer

This is a writing series documenting my journey into freelance writing and editing. It will mark important moments in my growth as a writer and as a person.

When I was nine years old I had an assignment to write a “myth”. I was supposed to write my own myth about anything that I wanted. So I decided to write the myth of how spring came to be. When I finished it involved a unicorn, elves, and magic and it was the greatest thing I had ever done in my life.

Since then I knew I wanted to write. I always saw myself hidden away, surrounded by papers and books and a sturdy wooden desk. But it always seemed like a faraway future, that I would just fall into one day. So instead I kept planning for some other future.

I always held back at the first step that I needed to take. I told myself it wasn’t possible to do, and that I’d end up failing anyways. I left things half-finished and I put projects on hold. I even stopped writing for a long time because I didn’t see the point. I knew I wouldn’t be happy without it but I didn’t see the point of continuing to do it if it couldn’t be my whole life. I call this the Self-Flagellating Writer.

I was miserable. I kept telling myself that I’d find something else that I had a future in. There had to be my real future somewhere. Nothing fit.

Then I befriended a co-worker who was actually leaving to start her own copywriting business. When I told her that I was thinking about writing, and that I always wanted to, she just looked at me and just said, “Then why don’t you?”

I didn’t have an answer. I had just never really tried before. I assumed I was going to fail before I even began. I started to analyze those feelings and where they came from. I was so bogged down with anecdotes of rejection letter piles that stood a foot tall and being told that my income would be unstable.

The reason I seemed stuck ended up being myself. I always had anxiety. The kind of anxiety where I get panic attacks in crowded rooms, and sometimes I walk around almost certain that impending doom is just around the corner. That anxiety leaked into every aspect of my life. I just didn’t realize it.

When I realized it was my anxiety holding me back, not the quality of my work it was easier to handle. I knew the only way to tackle my anxiety was to make a bunch of little accomplishments. I needed to reassure myself that I could do it.

I started to make plans and put the gears in motion. I began to share my interest in writing more openly, began to share my work and I started to read again. All of a sudden it felt so in reach. Before I knew it, I had this site and an idea in my head of where my future would be.

So now I sit at my sturdy wooden desk, surrounded by books and journals, with a week ahead of me filled with deadlines and word counts. It’s the most excited I’ve ever felt, and the most terrified. The anxiety is still there, but my grip on the reins seems just a little bit firmer.

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