The Push & Pull of Writing

How can I consider myself a writer when I haven’t written in a while? When I’m having trouble picking up a pen (in reality, my laptop) and weaving words together in a way that is simply coherent?

I honestly struggle with feeling insecure about embracing the label of being a writer. It’s one of the reasons why I tend to be extremely hesitant to publicly share some of the things I write (ironic, huh?). Imposter syndrome is something that is spoken about frequently⁠, it isn’t anything new. Although it feels a little redundant bringing it up, I just can’t ignore it especially when I consistently wrestle with these thoughts.

I question myself often — if the very act of writing that I do is selfish. If it’s something that I use to make me feel better about myself. I wonder if a little part of me writes as a way of reassuring myself that, “Sure, I’m pretty decent at something.”

Writing has always been something I’ve admired. When I first picked up a book, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that someone can create an entire world by using only words. I also clearly remember the first time I had the courage to write something substantial.

I was a complete die-hard fan of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series. I mean, what kid wasn’t at the time? Every time my siblings and I would visit the library, the first thing that I would do was make a beeline towards the shelf that I knew held the colorful, glossy books.

One particular day, I reached the last page of one of the books and noticed that there was a writing competition being held. The competition entailed creating a filler chapter, and the winner could possibly have their piece published in the book itself. I can’t describe to you how I felt at that moment. How quickly my eyes grew wide, and how my petite 12-year-old frame literally shook with excitement.

Of course, I did what any sensible fan would do. I sat in front of the bright computer screen at home that day as my fingers glided across the keyboard, attempting to type each letter fast enough to keep up with the myriad of storylines racing in my mind. In order for me to have enough time to stay on the computer and write, I had to bribe my siblings with something I knew they couldn’t refuse. I would tell you what that thing exactly was at the time, but honestly I can’t remember. What I do remember though, is that it worked.

After I completed the chapter, I read and re-read what I had written, making sure no words were misspelled and whether or not the scenes I had created fit naturally with the story. I was super meticulous about it for a 12 year old, which is a little interesting to me now looking back. And I did feel nervous, very nervous. I wondered whether what I had written was going to do my favorite series justice.

Somehow, I managed to push all feelings of hesitation away and asked my dad if he could help print the page out for me. I then found an envelope in our house and with my mom’s help, scrawled the address on the front of the envelope, put our home address at the top and licked the envelope sealed.

To this day, I still remember the surprise I felt when I realized that I was actually allowed to write whatever idea came to my mind. That there were no specific rules to creative writing, and therefore — there was nothing holding me back. All I really had to do was sit…and write. With some adjusting here and there, I was in awe when the words on paper actually came to life.

Years have passed since that moment. I’ve gotten a few years older, had more life experiences. Like most people, I blamed college for sucking the love of reading for leisure out of me (since then, it’s been a process of re-learning how to love it).

But since that specific moment in my childhood, writing became everything to me. I’ve used writing as a keepsake for my memories and love the nostalgia that washes over me whenever I look back at what I had written.

It’s also been an outlet for me to pour my emotions into. There’ve been times when I’ve turned to writing when no one else listened — the scratch of my pencil against paper being the only thing I found comfort in.

I’ve jotted down odd ideas for potential stories and wrote poems that caused my toes to curl out of embarrassment. And unexpectedly, a few of those pieces that I was brave enough to share garnered positive reactions from people, which in turn gave my anxiety-ridden self a tiny bit of confidence.

Writing has always been a constant in my life when everything else around me was changing. It has always been something that was easily accessible, something that I could always rely on. Maybe the reason why I’ve been in this slump is because I’ve unknowingly taken advantage of something that I loved so dearly.

I’ve done this by writing only when it was convenient for me. I noticed that I began viewing writing merely as something that I might be good at. “A talent.” Unknowingly, and as time passed, I dismissed the fact that writing was actually something I consciously decided to work to improve on everyday and instead, I’ve become passive.

Every time I’ve sat down to write, it was a beautifully complicated process. A process that consisted of multiple failed attempts of formulating my thoughts into words, trying again and then somehow succeeding.

Whenever I found myself immersed in a piece that I’ve created, my love and curiosity for this entire process grew. When I chose to continue to write, it unconsciously turned from a talent I thought I had, to a skill that I actively practiced.

I’m continuing to learn that writing is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I don’t ever want to stop. Without a doubt, I unequivocally dread the pauses — such as this weird interlude that I’ve found myself in, but I appreciate the lessons I learn from them.

Cheesily enough, I hope to someday be able to proudly take on the title of being a writer instead of shying away from it. I want to be unafraid in sharing my love for writing and dream of being able to live a life in which I spend all my time imagining and creating stories.