I have been keeping a diary off and on since I was a little girl.
From ‘hello diary, here’s what I’ve been doing’ to working through my emotions when my chronic illness flares up and I don’t know how to go on, my diary has seen a lot. And while journal writing has been a good way to check in with myself, I practice another type of writing that feeds my soul.
When I was little, I used to create stories for myself before I went to sleep.
The stories could be short, but often they would span months – well, I kept falling asleep. As I grew older it became a way to tune out things around me. It’s a bit like meditating for me, I suppose. And before you ask, no, I have never written any of them down. They really weren’t that good, but they helped me escape.
The first time my chronic illness popped up, stories passed the time until the itching stopped, and sometimes, mostly not, but sometimes, I would even forget for a short time the misery I was in.
In the back of my mind, I told myself that one day, I would actually write a story, a book perhaps. I’ve contemplated a few times if I could make storytelling a career, but it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, even with fiction. More than that, before even starting, I had made my own judgement: I wasn’t good enough.
Eventually the stories dissolved in the fog of real life: building a career, taking care of others and generally getting by.
But, similar to a bottle of forgotten carbonated soda in the dark of a freezer, cooped up feelings and longings burst. And so, it came as it must one day. Real life got too much. After burning a few bridges (which is not always a bad thing in hindsight), I decided to take a sabbatical and applied to production companies in Los Angeles, just to do something different, something with storytelling. I had the chance to work on a Children’s movie. It was an amazing experience and I even got to read the screenplay. And then I knew – that’s it! That is what I want to do.
But back home, daily responsibilities pulled me in again.
Still, I started writing in other ways, like blogging. I even tried to have a go at writing a screenplay. Just doing it, even without a plan or goal, lifted my mood, flexed my creative muscles and allowed me to learn something, even if the quality of the screenplay was really bad. A few years later I took a course in screenwriting in Los Angeles and had another go at writing a screenplay. Again, the experience changed me.
Being in a place where other people write gave me motivation and drive to finish the script.
I found out, that I have more than just one story in me. In fact, the more I write, the more ideas for new stories I have. It’s lifted my confidence and motivates me to keep going. Writing my fictional story made me see things differently in the real world. To work out what makes my characters tick, I have to really take their perspective. A habit that I now do more and more with real people as well. I see things more visually. If people tell me things about themselves, or their past, I can kind of see them in my head.
With every story I write, I learn things about myself.
I learn about how I see the world and people. For example, how I really look at gender diversity, or what I think about racism. And through that lens, I see what I like about myself, and even things I don’t. Writing makes me much more open to accept feedback and at the same time it also makes me more confident in myself and my capabilities, which in turn makes criticism feel less personal.
Of course, I had the magnificent chance to write the story for our self-help mobile app, Shadow’s Edge, and it has allowed me to feel more secure in being able to bring variety in writing, so that I now am even attempting to write a biopic.
People always ask me how I have the discipline to write. I will admit that because I also tend to really pour myself into my work, it’s been hard to write just on the side and make progress in my writing.
And so, this year, I vowed to myself that I would give my writing equal priority to my work.
The best decision, I have ever made. I found the discipline I need and started writing in the early morning hours, from 5am to 10am, every day, also in the weekend. Doing that makes me proud of myself; it means that I start my day positive and it gives me a good feeling about myself because, for the first time in my life, I am working hard on myself and my happiness. I am doing what makes me happy.
I am also working hard on getting my scripts out there.
I know that is hard, but I feel I owe it to myself to do what makes me happy, and I am confident enough now that I am not afraid to chase the dream. And if it doesn’t happen – if I don’t end up a successful screenwriter – that’s totally fine, too. I have found a contentedness and confidence in myself through the process and writing creatively puts a smile on my face every day.
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