I KNOW I’VE BEEN PUTTING OFF THIS POST FOR AS LONG AS I CAN BECAUSE I’M DISAPPOINTED IN MYSELF FOR HOW LONG IT’S TAKEN ME TO WRITE IT.
I came on this trip for many reasons but one of the main ones was to get back into my writing. I used to complain I didn’t have the time to write in my 9 – 5: “I spend all day looking at a computer,” I’d say. “Why would I spend all evening looking at one too?” That seemed to be a good enough reason for not being able to keep up my passion.
So when I quit my job it felt like a step in the right direction. I got back into the writing-flow for a little while, using my newfound free time to write & post. (Holy shit, I thought, I’m nailing this blogging thing). When I set off on my trip, my expectations of solo-travelling were that I’d be writing and blogging once every one/two weeks. The reality of it was much more limited.
IT’S TRUE WHAT THEY SAY: YOU’RE NEVER REALLY ON YOUR OWN WHEN YOU TRAVEL SOLO.
I spent the first few weeks see-sawing between meeting people, doing things, enjoying new experiences and having fun, all the while also managing a tonne of new, overwhelming ones as well. Even though I spent the first month in one place (volunteering as the blogger for Dreamsea Surf Camp Costa Rica), I couldn’t find the time to do my own writing. There was always something going on, it seemed; I didn’t want to be the person missing out because I was hiding away. My writing would have to wait.
But once I left the Surf Camp it was two weeks of hostel-hopping and day trips, of laboriously long bus journeys paired with delusional evenings spent familiarising myself with new surroundings. Each place I arrived in took me a while to settle into but no sooner had I adjusted I’d be back on the road. I’ll stop moving soon, I’d tell myself when the writers-guilt crept in. Then I can write properly. But even when I did, I still found myself disappointingly disinterested.
THE PROBLEM IS THAT I’M CREATING EXCUSES AND I’M LETTING THEM HOLD ME BACK.
- I’VE MISSED MY WINDOW. This trip was supposed to be my opportunity to give blogging a go. I’m now 7 weeks in – halfway through – and I haven’t made a single post. Surely it’s too late to start now?
- FINDING THE TIME and THE BALANCE between writing and travelling. Do I sit in my hostel room/nearby café and write, but miss out on a new & exciting place, or do I go out exploring and making the most of being abroad but end up spending another day not writing?
- I’M A BIT OF A PERFECTIONIST and I’m never completely satisfied with my work. I always compare myself to other writers, wanting to be like them but putting their work on pedestals I’ll never be able to reach. I’m convinced I don’t have the capacity to format a blog properly either – and if a blog doesn’t look like a blog will anyone want to read it? Which leads on to…
- WHAT IF NO ONE READS IT? You know that feeling when you’re in a group conversation and you chip in but no one hears you and carries on talking (or when someone notices that no one’s heard, and you share an embarrassed pitiful moment)? Well what’s worse than speaking to the entirety of cyberspace and no one’s listening?
- But then WHAT IF PEOPLE DO READ IT? My writing can be quite personal – am I ready to expose that vulnerability to strangers or people I know? (My British ‘stiff upper lip’ is internally screaming). As humans we inherently avoid putting ourselves ‘out there’ too much because we don’t want to be embarrassed, laughed at, or rejected… my writing feels just the same.
I know ultimately these excuses stem from my fear of failing. Writing has always been ‘my thing’: a comfort, a safe place, a private and personal passion. To put it out there, shared with the world, still absolutely terrifies me.
But, in the words of some great men…
In order to find a happy medium I know I need to confront, accept, and push through my fears. I know I’ll never know what opportunities lie behind closed doors if I don’t at least try and open them (cliché, but true). And there’s no point telling people I’m a writer if I’m not even writing… right?
SO, MY CHALLENGES TO MYSELF WILL BE
- To celebrate small milestones and stop being so hard on myself. Creating ‘windows’ and setting unrealistic expectations only leave me disheartened and disappointed (and take away the joy in writing so where’s the fun in that)
- To be okay with taking time for myself, even if it means sacrificing one thing for the other. If I want to have a day of writing rather than a day at the beach, so be it. That’s the beauty of solo-travelling – you decide what you want to do.
- To write as often as I can. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect but it does relent perfectionism and the fears. The more I write the easier the process will become.
- And to believe in myself. The only acceptance I need to be concerned is my own, not other people’s and I am only as good as I believe myself to be.