When I was ten years old, I went to Six Flags and desperately wanted to ride one of the big roller coasters. I measured myself against one of the height charts outside of the ride, and got assurance from my parents that I was just tall enough to go. However, the attendant working the height chart inside didn’t agree. I walked out of line in tears, disappointed because I just didn’t measure up (literally). For a few years after that, until I grew tall enough to exceed the bottom line on those height charts, I was purely intimidated by big coasters and didn’t even want to try to get in line. One rejection caused intimidation.
We all have roller coasters in front of us, so to speak. I think intimidation is a fear of not measuring up, of not even being able to try to ride the coaster because we don’t stack up: to a person, to a task, or to a place. Writing became a roller coaster for me following the end of my engagement. Instead of being a source of solace and creativity, it became something that intimidated me like nothing else. In a time when I wasn’t quite sure who I was meant to be, where to go, or what my purpose was, I turned away from my notebook. A rejection (though one that didn’t pertain to writing itself), spurred intimidation.
Humans are, as they say, creatures of habit. The longer I didn’t write, the more difficult it was to start again. And the less I proved to myself that I did measure up, the more that intimidation grew and it became a vicious cycle with no end in sight. At the beginning of this year, I set my focus word as “intention”. I’m seeing now that it’s going to take some major intention to break that cycle and take a deep dive into my creative writing life again. I want to be the kind of person who taps into my creativity on a consistent basis and uses my voice.
All of that to say, if you’re feeling intimidated by your own craft like I have been, just know that it’s a natural feeling. The creative realm is vast and uncharted in so many ways. Rejections big and small can skew us from taking any risks, from riding any roller coaster, as creative endeavors tend to be. However, one of the most beautiful things about creativity, especially creative writing in my experience, is that initially there’s no pressure in it.
When it’s just you and that blank page, all that matters is the idea in your head and putting words to paper. It doesn’t have to go anywhere, or be published, or even meet anyone else’s eyes. Just get the words down. There’s no pressure. I promise. The draft can be sloppy and mismatched at first; there’s plenty of time for polishing in later stages if the piece gets there in its time. But it doesn’t have to. There’s nothing to measure up to, just write. I’m being intentional about changing my mindset to one without pressure. Without pressure to measure up, intimidation’s root’s aren’t there. Without its roots, its cycle is broken, and I can enjoy that thrilling roller coaster ride.
Identify your need to measure up. To a person. To someone else’s standard. To a certain environment. To your own craft. Why do you feel that way? How can you shift your mindset to remove the pressure to measure up in order to rid yourself of the intimidation? Rip intimidation out at the root, and it can’t affect you. Creatively, know that a draft is just that. It’s for your eyes and your pen. Words to paper. Sweet relief.
Much Love, Quinn