I've dreamed of being an author ever since I started reading and fell in love with the world of fiction.
At 8, my best friend and I folded papers in two and wrote on the inside, making it a little book. When that wasn't enough, we stapled together more papers.
At 13, my friends and I gathered every couple of weeks to read our short stories aloud for each other. A soft support of the dreams that persisted.
My dream of becoming an author grew with me, from a child's simple choice, to a teenager's determination, to a young adult's dream she barely believed in anymore.
I grew into a picky reader, one with a taste that comes from reading hundreds, if not thousands of books, from Harry Potter and Heartland in my early teens to Kafka and Hemingway in my late teens. I started dividing books into quality and non-quality.
I learned that getting published is unreasonably hard. Only the best make it, if they are lucky.
My dream was slipping through my fingers, but I held on for dear life.
I want to be an author
I want to write books of so high quality that they'll let me be an author.
I started to hate everything I wrote
Where I once found immense joy, I now found anxiety, self-disgust and a deep, desperate fear of failing. My dream was as strong as ever, but I had lost the belief that I could make it come true.
I didn't analyze and criticize my own writing the same way I did with any old book, I was harsher. I held my own writing to an impossible standard and I was, indeed, my own worst critic.
The outcome was everything that mattered and I only knew one thing:
my writing would never be good enough, but it had to be.
Over the years, I wrote and stopped writing. I struggled with writing blocks and held onto my dream in secret.
It was when I had graduated from university, started working and had an on-and-off relationship with the second draft of my first novel, that I finally understood what I was doing.
The fear of failing on my dream was stopping me from going after it.
That's the reason I made 2016 my Fear Year, the year I went after my creative fears and broke through that writing block.
But halfway through the year, I found myself face to face with another, even scarier truth.
If my fear of failing was half the problem, my dream was the other half
The pressure of thinking I had to write like one of the best made it impossible for me to work in peace. However much I wanted, I couldn't make myself believe that I would reach that level I was striving for.
Even when I liked what I'd written, even when I thought it was pretty darn good, I could never accept that it would be enough. My dream had turned into the impossible place of perfection.
Between being convinced that I needed to reach perfection to reach my dream and desperately fearing failure, I was doing a very good job of making sure I would never become an author.
With all that pressure and fear, I couldn't keep a routine. I constantly fell into writing blocks. And without writing consistently, I wouldn't ever get better at writing and I sure wouldn't finish any novels. Meaning, I wouldn't become an author.
So the counter-intuitive answer to making my dream come true was to let go of it.
I needed to give up on becoming an author in the way I'd thought of it. I didn't want to, but I knew I had to if I were ever to finish my first book.
I've given up on writing a book so good they'll let me become an author
I've said goodbye to my impossible standards. I've started to be kind to myself as a writer. I've accepted that my writing will be filled with flaws.
I no longer see getting traditionally published as my ultimate goal.
Today, my dream is this: I want to write novels.
And guess what? I'm living my dream. I'm writing with more ease than I have in years and years. Today, I'm starting the third draft of that book.
In a way I've came back to the core of my dream, as it started. I've let go of what it became when society told me what I had to do to make it come true.
I still care about the quality of my writing, but now it's not an impossible standard of perfection. Now it's part of the process, to make it better.
I'm convinced I will get my novel out there eventually. If I have to self-publish, I gladly will. I might even choose it above the traditional route.
Dreams can be so strong, we mess them up wanting too much
We are so scared of failing, we mix in all the things we think we need to do to make them come true. Suddenly that dream becomes impossible.
If you have a dream you're paralyzed by, ask yourself this:
Is my dream really to be everything I think I need to be?
Maybe you too need to let go of a few layers of insecurity and outside pressure, and go back to the core of your dream.
Again find the love that made it a dream in the first place.