“If you wish to be a writer, write.”
Those words are so easy to say, and yet the idea terrifies so many. Why? Because to write is to do something. And in a world where we can get anything we want at the touch of a button, doing something is radical. But if we do nothing, then what are we left with? A few ideas and an empty notebook? Bills piling up on the kitchen table? What is worse: to do nothing on the chance that it may crash and burn, or to do something despite the risks?
For writing is risking. And perhaps that is what scares people most of all. There are so many reasons to be afraid of putting pen to paper, but there are even more reasons not to be afraid.
Writing is risking; you risk your day job, you risk your misconceptions of self. When you write, you have to set aside anything that would ordinarily hold you back, you have to cross boundaries, overcome barriers. You have to be bold, be brave. Otherwise all you will write is a mere shadow, a trifling whisper of your thoughts which portrays nothing of human emotion, nothing that is real.
Writing is making yourself vulnerable. When you write, when you set aside the normal boundaries that would constrict you, you are laying yourself open. You pull out the innermost thoughts and feelings of your heart, and your characters become an extension of yourself. In them, we see you. And in the world you create, be it a fantasy realm or New York City, we get to see through your eyes. We see the world as you see it, and for a time, we are inside you. The reader is you. And when you lay yourself bare like that, it is not like a journal where all is private; no, it is meant to be read. It is meant to be critiqued and thought on. And I don't know about you, but that is a terrifying prospect.
Writing is also work. Books don't just fall out of the air and onto the page. No, they have to be thought out, planned, written, re-written, revised, re-revised, re-re-revised, read by others, revised again, sent to agents and publishing houses, yet another revision, and then, on that blessed day, printed, bound, and sent to bookstores. And each of those steps requires time (lots and lots of time), effort (yeah, you have to mean it when you say you want to write a book), and a smidgen of talent. Blend together, along with some blood, sweat and tears, and voila! You have a book! Yeah. It's that much work. Really.
But is it scarier to write, or not to? Would it be better to live inside of a bubble, to see the world, but never touch it? Would you like to be burdened your whole life with the two haunting words: What If? So what if it's scary? The things worth doing in life often are. So what if it's hard? If you're going to work (and you are) why not work on something that so many others can enjoy? Why not work on something that you can enjoy?
Something everyone wants to avoid is regret. And will you regret writing? No. You may decide that it's not your forte, and move on to something else, but if you don't do it, you could be forever plagued with doubt. You may always be second guessing yourself, and wondering what if I had... where would I be now?
So take a deep breath, pull out your notebook, open your laptop, and get to work. Write that novel. Compile those original poems. Submit that short story. There are a million reasons to write. So what's holding you back?