I’m categorically a wuss. Far too many things scare me and there is absolutely no way you will catch me watching a horror film. I mean, Shaun of the Dead was too scary for me, by a long shot.
But sometimes, we have to do the things that scare us. Working through a little bit of fear and nerves can be a good thing. Of course, I’m not saying that I’ve signed up for one of those ‘zombie experience days’ – I don’t think you’ll ever catch me on one of those. Instead, I’m starting small with a creative writing course.
Creative writing is something that I have dabbled in throughout the years but have never taken any classes in or taken that seriously. It was like my secret hobby, that I kept tucked away from everyone and anyone. I didn’t do it as often as I would have liked and had far too many projects that I abandoned before they really got a chance to go anywhere. Then I discovered the gem that is Laura Jane Williams. I read her book The Book of Brave and felt more inspired than I had in a long time. I became her biggest fan/stalker and eagerly watched on social media as she poured her heart into Becoming, which I also devoured as soon as it came out. Slowly, I realised that writing was more than just putting words on a page when I felt like it. It was turning up and honing the craft. It was dedicating your time to it, even when it wasn’t easy or simple. It was being brave enough to try.
Slowly, I started to take things more seriously. I made a promise to write something every week, even if it wasn’t prose or poetry. Sitting down and crafting posts for my corner of the internet, writing essays, writing articles, it all counted. Becoming a better writer wasn’t about suddenly penning a bestselling novel but taking the time to learn and develop. I didn’t become a gothic literature nerd overnight, and I couldn’t expect to suddenly become writer. I had to work at it, to put myself out there.
So, a little while ago now, I made myself write a novel. I didn’t plan it, or fuss about editing as I went, I just made a commitment to sit down and write something every day. By the end of the summer, I had a very, very rough draft of a novel. Now, that novel needs some serious work but I still love it because it taught me that writing doesn’t have to be perfect to happen. Sometimes turning up and just trying to make something happen is enough. Now, I don’t feel so caught up in the desire to make something ‘worthy’ that I don’t try. Slowly, I started to let some close family and friends have a read and I let their feedback help me, rather than stress me out.
A little more recently, I watched as Laura Jane Williams and Jen Campbell (another fave of mine) hosted writing workshops. I kind of really wanted to go but couldn’t, didn’t. Getting to them would have been a logistical nightmare but I also recognised that I was letting my fear get the better of me. Fear that I wasn’t good enough to even try, which is ridiculous since the whole point of lessons like that is to learn to be better. I gave myself a stern talking to and when a creative writing class in St Andrews cropped up, I signed up before I could wuss out. As soon as I paid up, all the old doubts crept in and I was so nervous before that first class that I almost didn’t show up.
But I did.
I put one foot in front of the other, a smile on my face and I decided to try.
We’re four weeks in now and it’s still terrifying, but in a new, almost lovely way. After every session I feel proud of how brave I’ve been and inspired to keep turning up and trying, even if its hard. Because a creative writing class might seem like a small thing but there is no way I would have done it a few years ago. I’m already facing that fear of not being good enough, and I’m already pushing past those doubts. There is no magic cure to it, but it feels good to try, you know?
So here’s to doing the things to scare us, to learning something new and to pushing yourself to grow.