by Samantha Capps
I am not sure when it started, that feeling of dread when I sit down with a blank Word document, that self-loathing as I type out a mess of malformed sentences and immediately delete them, the disappointment as I close the window and browse Tumblr in an attempt to distract myself from another failed attempt. I can’t write. Everything that comes out seems stilted, fake, dumb. I’ve been here before, but it’s been a long time. I remember days when I was first trying to write a novel, and I rewrote Chapter One over and over and over again because each time I hated it. No progress was made. Eventually I gave up.
Something changed eventually, though, and it wasn’t my skill. I stopped being so self-aware and critical. I stopped caring about how good what I wrote was. I stopped fearing failure. I decided to stop indulging in these thoughts that were blocking my progress. And from that came an unstoppable flow of energy and productivity. In a month, I wrote my first short story, which came to 40 single-spaced pages. That summer, I wrote my first novel.
Both of these creations are abysmally written. I want to burn both of them.
But if I hadn’t written my whiny, angsty short story and novel at the age of fourteen, I wouldn’t have gone on to write more mature and better written stories that earned me a Regional Gold Key Portfolio Award in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards (the highest award at the regional level) my senior year of high school. I wouldn’t have been able to complete my creative writing BA at Warren Wilson, and I wouldn’t be going to a writing retreat on a full scholarship in two weeks.
Why, now that the wall of procrastination and unworthiness is once again in my way, why am I so afraid? I’ve been here before. I can climb this wall again. It’s time to go back and face these old fears. I am ready.