Career & Self-Help Writing and Querying

The Lie That Held Me Back

We all have opinions about ourselves that we think are real when, in fact, they aren’t. Counselors call these self-limiting beliefs. I think they’re simply lies. Whatever you call them, many of us have these lurking around in our heads, preventing us from doing amazing things. What a waste of potential. Because I hate wasted potential, I’m sharing one of the lies that used to hold me back in the hopes that it helps you think about your own. Shout out to Rachel Hollis whose book Girl, Wash Your Face inspired this post.

The Lie: Writing is too hard and I’m not good enough to do it.

What a load of crap. Insert any pursuit you want to accomplish into that sentence. Getting a degree, vying for a promotion, running a half marathon. Number one: of course it’s hard! So? That doesn’t mean it’s not valuable and you can’t do it. (See, I just used a double negative in a sentence. Twice!)

Number two: You’ll become better and better at it the more you do it. Maybe the first time you run you only go out for a mile. Maybe you do that for a week, running five miles over the course of five days. Then the following week you run for two miles each time you go out. Then you run for three miles. Then you make it up to four or five once a week for your long run. Eventually you’ll get up to thirteen in one single run, which is a lot of miles.

The road is going to look long and mountainous and winding when you first start, but if you continue down the path, you’ll build stamina. You’ll make it past those mountains. You’ll rest at the top. You’ll have some days where climbing the mountain feels easy and others where each step is a struggle. But eventually, you’ll wind around to the finish line. This applies to everything in life.

Which brings me to one of my favorite phrases. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Sure, the idea of being a fiction writer seems daunting. Especially when staring at a blank page. But once I’ve written a few pages, it seems less difficult. Once I’ve written hundreds of pages, I start to see that I have the chops to do it. Once I’ve written thousands, man I’ll be unstoppable.

What could you do today that would get you one step closer to your goal? It could be the most incremental thing. Maybe it’s finding the website where you can look up graduate programs and that’s it. You’re not even looking up specific programs yet. Maybe it’s scheduling a meeting with your boss for feedback. Maybe it’s researching how to register the domain of a website you’ve wanted to build.

If you break things into steps, these daunting challenges, these ideas about being unable to accomplish the big dream, become less and less paralyzing. You’ll realize that all big dreams start with small steps.

I have a few other lies I’ll share in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for those. What lie have you told yourself that held you back? How did you get past it?

Photo by Nick Morrison

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