There are a lot of things that can motivate a person to write. Or paint. Or sculpt. Or whatever. Some people are drawn to their art at an early age, writing stories on an old typewriter that is still in the house, or taking photographs with dad’s old film camera. Others might come to it later in life, realizing that they don’t want to live without having even tried to make some art, to express themselves in one way or another.
And some get stuck somewhere in the middle. Perhaps they’ve had a lifelong desire to make art and think about it often. Perhaps they’ve gathered various tools that would be necessary to create that art. But for some reason, they don’t actually do it. They buy the canvases, the easel, the paints, hell, even a fancy smock with pockets, but they just sit in a corner gathering dust.
Perhaps they have, at some point, created some art. Good, bad, or indifferent – it doesn’t matter. It’s all subjective anyway, so who cares what anyone else really thinks. But then they don’t go on to do more. They don’t get another ream of paper, or another roll of film. They stop themselves short.
Why? I could give you plenty of reasons that fit into any number of categories, but for most folks, it comes down to fear. Being afraid that no one will like it (there will be people who won’t). Afraid that people will judge you for what you have created (there will be people who will). Afraid that no matter how hard you try, you’re just pretending. You’re a fraud. An impostor.
Well, yeah. When we start, we’re all impostors. We all pretend. We all do something derivative of what we like. We imitate the writers or painters we like because we want people to think of us like we think of them. But as your portfolio of work grows, so does your own sense of voice – you become less like what inspires you and more like yourself. It takes time and your mileage may vary. You discover your voice as you go along – it’s not an overnight thing. Can you find your voice during a month-long writing challenge? Sure. Can it take year after year of struggle? You bet.
The point is, though, you have to keep moving. If it’s the thing you want to do – if it’s who you are – then dammit, you move forward. You surround yourself, as much as you can, with the people and things that influence your art. You join the tribe and remain on the outskirts of it until the day that you create something of your own.
I was lucky enough to find my tribe when I was a kid. And I was even luckier to have finally gotten deeper into the tribe just a few years ago. I took the steps to realize that there are really aren’t any valid excuses for not creating the thing I want to create. I’m no longer an impostor. Am I 100% there? Nope. But I’m learning how to step aside from my fears and let myself create, and that’s good enough for now.