Start with joy

I feel compelled to write. About a number of things, really, but mostly fiction. But it wasn’t always that way–a compelling feeling, I mean.

For me, it started as a flicker of joy. I liked creating stories. No, deeper than that, I enjoyed imagining. And I wanted a place to store those ideas and be able to enjoy them any time I wanted.

So I did that. Sometimes. I was also lazy. I think most of us are, both as children and as adults. Or more accurately, I preferred the immediate joy of imagining over the work of recording those imaginations. As such, I would often wind up ignoring the greater and more nebulous feeling of joy that promised to come if I could completely record one of my creations.

But as time went on, a curious thing took place. I began to feel guilt. Though that’s not quite right either. It was more of an urgency. There were too many ideas. If I didn’t write them down, I’d risk losing them for good. Also, what if someone came along with the same idea and managed to write it all down? That would’ve been great, actually, except for one small problem. What if they were wrong? In other words, what if their version of my story wasn’t the way it should be. The way it should be, of course, was how it played out in my head.

So my joy in writing was accompanied by a burden to write. But that burden wasn’t strong enough to get me to actually do something about it. Ultimately, when the process would become too difficult, I’d ask myself, “Well, is it so bad if I lose this story? Or if someone else gets it wrong?” And since the easy answer was, “no,” I would falter.

But over time, both the joy of writing and the burden to write kept growing. And before long, those feelings found a new companion: guilt. Now that was a true guilt: a feeling of remorse to my younger self, as though I needed to apologize for never realizing those dreams. But guilt is even worse than a burden, because difficult times always feel worse when shackled to guilt.

This went on until one day, when I had thousands of desires to pursue in my spare time, I decided it would be good to whittle down those desires. So I asked myself, “What do I want to do?” After careful examination, I managed to remove all the years of layers that had grown up around that original passion for imagining. I was finally able to look at it for what it was. Why did I want to write in the first place? In short, I found that flicker of joy again. And I held onto it.

Fortunately, I’m now better equipped to accomplish goals than I was in my younger years. Now I find it much easier to ignore the nonsense that tends to cloud up the otherwise simple task of writing. Now I find it much easier to simply focus on what I know needs to be done. Or in this case, what I know I want to do. And now, here I am, having published a novel and working toward my second one.

I’ve never compared my experience with those of others, so I have no idea if it relates. But my hope is that this post and the evidence of a completed work will inspire anyone that has felt similarly. If you’re struggling to launch your writing startup, try what worked for me. Find that joy, and start there.

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