For many years now, I’ve had a block around writing. I would sit down and try to access the part of my brain that had flourished at the tail end of high school – the endless imagination that could create worlds in an instant. Instead there was a wall; high and thick and gray. It was immensely frustrating. The words that used to flow (not easily, but the trickle that wouldn’t die and sometimes poured out like a storm) were gone.
I’m not sure there was a single reason things stopped. A combination of well-meant pressure and a flood of depression were certainly part of the reason. In the end it doesn’t matter. The words stopped and instead I took up the camera. I found a way to describe without words. I could click the shutter and capture those thoughts and memories. I can look at an image and remember – cold air that fills your lungs and brings colour to your cheeks. The warm sunrise hitting the trees. The sound of gravel underfoot.
Images were how I spoke. They took the place of awkward sentences and blank walls and fear.
This summer, I decided I’ve had enough. I came across an interview with an actor who spoke of realizing he was making a decision based on fear, and realized he needed to do it anyway. Being afraid isn’t an excuse to say no. It’s a reason to say yes. (I have grudgingly come to accept that I am a Gryffindor at heart. Dammit.) So (with my heart in my mouth, ready to escape) I sat down and started searching. I found a free online course excerpt to jump start my brain and wrote. Oh hell it is so bad and those words won’t be seen by anyone else, but making that decision and opening those floodgates reminded my how much I fucking miss it. I’ve set a daily word goal for myself, a tiny 200 words. (As though I will scare the words away if I aim too high.) After a week I could talk about writing without feeling like I’m chasing away a wild animal. I posted some publicly, for the first time in a decade (no, you can’t read it. Pen names are my safety net.)
I realize this might not seem like a huge deal to people outside my head (the fictional folk inside are throwing a damn party). I am a fierce worrier and fearfully courageous dumbass. But the best thing I learned in my 20’s (the wordless decade) was to feel afraid but do it anyway. Don’t let it stop you. Own the nerves, feel your heart race, and jump.