This past July was the first time I haven’t met my Camp NaNo goal. What’s Camp NaNo you ask? Read about it here and perhaps you might decide to partake in April of 2020. 🙂
One week into the month and I suspected I might have a difficult time meeting my goal. Two weeks into the month and I knew I wouldn’t reach my goal. Between a family vacation, a heart procedure that required a hospital stay, the devastating deaths of two friends, and the emotional turmoil that accompanied these events, writing just wasn’t “there.” The fire went out.
While it was a difficult pill to swallow (I hate to “fail” when I’ve set my mind to doing something), by the end of the month I’d come to accept it. Rather peacefully, truth be told. But it didn’t happen until I began to believe that I hadn’t “failed.” I’d simply taken a much-needed time-out.
The difficulty I had in accepting it to begin with is something almost every writer likely deals with–others’ expectations of what it means to be a writer.
“Real” writers, I told myself, write no matter what. I’ve read in numerous articles that real writers don’t only write when they “feel” like it. They write no matter what. They sit their butt in the chair and write, by golly.
No. Matter. What.
So I asked myself–if I’m not a “real” writer, what does that make me? A fraud? A wanna-be? And if that’s the case, why bother?
The conclusion I came to after mulling this over, agonizing over the years I’ve likely been nothing but a fraud or a wanna-be, adding to the emotional turmoil I was already going through, is this:
No one–NO ONE–no matter how successful they might be, gets to determine who is a “real” writer. I’ve authored and published six books. I get to call myself a “real” writer if that’s what I believe I am. Even those who haven’t published anything at all, no one gets to decide if you are a “real” writer but you. Only you.
The fact that I needed a time-out (actually, that time-out is still ongoing), doesn’t make me less of a “real” writer, it makes me a smart writer. I can’t imagine never writing again. Never setting pen to the page–or fingers to the keyboard–and telling a story. Now that thought is enough to send me into a panic. Writing and creating brings me joy, peace, and a sense of purpose. It’s writing and creating that makes me feel alive.
But sometimes, we need to take a break from even the good things. We need to tend to what is right in front of us. Only you know what’s best for you and what your needs are. And if a time-out is one of those things, do it.
You’ll still be a “real” writer. Or photographer, painter, gardener, blogger, dancer…you get the picture.
This “real” writer is going to continue taking the time I need to heal and get back to the writing routine when the time is right for me. And I’ll be all the better for it.
Time for some feedback. Have you heard/read any “advice” that keeps you from feeling like you’re something less than what you are? Something that’s made you question your authenticity?
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson