Oh sure, I’d jot down tidbits of ideas (just like always), and later I’d try to flesh them out (just like always).
But I froze up.
I couldn’t make those ideas turn into anything, until eventually they stopped coming at all. No matter how many stops and starts and excuses I made, I couldn’t figure out why. And then it hit me.
I had started worrying about my audience.
Who would read it? Friends? Coworkers? What would they think? Would someone be offended? Would what I wrote be interpreted correctly? After scores of questions like that, the tiny seed of self-doubt we all carry somewhere deep inside began to grow, until finally it full-out blossomed.
Not only could I not make sense out of my jotted tidbits, but I also stopped being able to find new ones. While I used to pull them out of the air like fireflies, I stopped even lifting my hand.
All because I forgot that I was writing for me–not for you. And even though I said right here in this blog that I would keep writing even if not a single person reads my ramblings. And even though I’ve really, really missed this visceral part of me.
A few weeks ago, a blogger/author I follow added a page to her site called Make a Memory. There’s apparently a whole movement behind it, but what really stuck with me were the words, “Turn ‘I wish I had’ into ‘I’m glad I did.'”
So I finally started that book I’ve always wanted to write. I’ve only knocked out a couple of chapters, but it feels good. Really good. And guess what!
I started seeing fireflies again.
I’ve even caught a few.
So here I am–right back where I started, writing because it’s my outlet, because it makes me whole. As much as I love my readers and hope that one of my fireflies will light up your life in some way, I’m doing this for me.
So let me ask you this: is worrying about your audience keeping you from doing something? Maybe it’s time to go catch some fireflies.