Why is starting such a challenging part of any endeavour? Taking that first step, leaving your comfort zone, typing the first sentence…my fellow overthinkers will relate.
I often become immersed in the romanticism of certain dreams that I have for myself and am afraid that bringing them into fruition will somehow evaporate their magic. Is it possible that the idea of something is more satisfying than the actual act of attaining it? This cannot be the case for most people but it often is for me, especially when I become highly attached to a desired outcome.
As an introvert and highly sensitive individual, I have a rich inner world; I often live more vastly in my own mind than I do in my real life. My fantasies and my dreams are full of mystery, adventure, wonder, desire and all the plans- both big and small- that I envision for myself, but time continues to pass and many of these ideas and thoughts stay hidden, safe from outside opinions or feedback. I can recognize that this aspect of my personality tends to leave me feeling stuck, my potential unrealized.
When the pressure to achieve builds within me, I end up retreating, embracing solitude and isolating myself, craving connection in community but not turning to it for reprieve or support. I stockpile inspired photos, stories, quotes and poems like some kind of creative hoarder- wanting to share them but also grasping tightly to them, as if they would no longer be mine if I shared them with the world.
An example of a dream of mine is this blog. A dream that was full of inspired energy at the time of its inception but has since been quite neglected- tucked away in the dusty attic of my mind. At times I avoid it completely as it can remind me of lost ambition, lost motivation, lost momentum. When the name for my site came to me I was overwhelmed with a beautiful sense of ownership and excitement about what it could turn into and what I wanted to say. I truly wish to share my thoughts, adventures and inspirations with others but am constantly swept off my feet by an undertow of doubt, comparison and inadequacy.
My dream of being a writer, a travel writer at that, always feels out of reach. I don’t know how to bridge the gap between what I am currently doing to make a living and what I wish I was doing to make a living. I envy those around me who seem to work toward their goals with levity. While I am striving to do the same, I put so much effort into trying to perfect a project that I often abandon it at the first sign of self-proclaimed mediocrity; this leaves me treading the water of my dreams endlessly.
What I crave for myself moving forward is to pursue my desires with more of a gentle curiosity- a notion that reminds me of a passage I read in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (a highly recommended read if you struggle to express your creative side). In speaking about her father and his creative journey, Elizabeth states:
“He didn’t quit his day job to follow his dream; he just folded his dream into his everyday life.”
He just folded his dream into his everyday life. The book explains that when her father had a spark of interest in something different than his current line of work, he created space for it in his day-to-day life absent of any particular purpose other than his own enjoyment. This is where I have gone wrong so many times- getting trapped in the all-or-nothing mentality and collapsing under pressure that is self-created. Either I give a new pursuit my absolute all, my un-interrupted attention, produce continuous and measurable results- or, I step into avoidance and despair. What I need is a middle ground.
In my soul, I feel that writing is one of the things I am meant to do; however, I still struggle to manifest and solidify an enduring practice that feels meaningful and fulfilling for me. I imagine (or at least hope) that this is a relatable aspect of the human experience for anyone with a dream they have yet to attain.
I am finally coming to terms with the fact that it will be a life-long and ever-changing journey to explore my passions in life and I can take as much time as I need to do it. Every post such as this is a step in the right direction and a lesson in the value of expressing myself, no matter who (if anyone) reads it. By loosening my grip on expectations and focusing on creation for the joy of it alone, I’m inviting my dreams to slowly bloom on their own time.
I am in a place of seeking wisdom to help me navigate this struggle between dreaming and doing. What has worked for you in moving your dreams forward? What practices do you have in place that keep your creative spark alive? I would love to know.
Heya Laura. As an ex travel writer, I’ve had the privilege to see what my editors said about freelance applicants, so I thought I’d share, if you don’t mind.
The first thing I’d advise you to do is to find your favourite publication. Which websites or magazines most inspire you? Then create a portfolio based on their formats. Things to look out for are picture types, word count, story angles, and extras such as sidebars or pillbox facts.
You’ll probably have to do this in your own time with your own expenses at first, but you can start off covering your local areas. Barring that, you can always write feature-type articles that don’t require you to actually be there.
Amass a portfolio of like 10–50 articles—or better yet, have a website dedicated to it—and you’ll have something to show your favourite publications once you reach out to them. The pitching process is a subject of its own, which you can google, but don’t bother about that till you get the first part done.
Of course, this won’t guarantee anything, but it does move you in the right direction. Wishing you all the best!
Thank you SO much for such a thoughtful comment full of helpful information. That went way beyond what I could have expected in response to my post. Very grateful for you taking the time to share your insight with me. I’m now also really looking forward to reading more of the content on your site- “Embrace the shitty first draft before you lose the idea entirely” may be my new mantra for life haha.
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So much of what you said in this post resonated with me. I can only say that of all the things that we can fold into life, writing seems easy enough. I mean if I did have a love for something obscure like bear-and-salmon-watching or rhino-with-heron-photography, I am sure it would be a lot harder to fold into my lifestyle 🙂
I also found that writing is truly one of those things that become better with time. When I look back at my posts over the past 17 years, I see a marked difference, and can only hope that it improves along similar lines in the next 17.
Good luck to you and I look forward to reading more of your posts 🍀
This is such a kind and thoughtful comment- I’m glad this post resonated with you. I do hope my writing continues to grow and improve with time- it is all a wonderful creative experiment! I look forward to reading more of your posts moving forward too. 💗
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