I used to dream that something was threatening me and I needed to run but I couldn’t move my legs, couldn’t propel my body into motion. In my waking life, a fear took hold that if I needed to run, I somehow wouldn’t be able to get going.
Then one day I realized that in those dreams, my sleeping body was trying in real life to respond to the urgent command to move–but it was asleep, drugged by the body’s chemistry that keeps most of us fairly settled and still through the night. I realized that if I were awake and needed to run, I absolutely could and would.
The voice that says you might write badly, that you are writing badly at this very moment as you type or move your pen across the page? That is the voice of the sleeping body that says you will not run in the face of danger. It’s the voice of your fear–and it can’t write, can’t create (other than obstacles–and actually, it’s enormously creative at imagining obstacles and painting them so realistically you believe in them).
Here’s a crazy, important secret: You can always write at about the level at which you write. And over time, with practice, you will steadily improve. Your writing is not going to soar or sink in the way you fear or even feel, in the way that voice threatens.
Writing is like running. You go. Move. The voice says, Maybe you aren’t moving at all. Maybe you only think you are moving. Maybe you are stuck, still, static. The voice is wrong. You are in motion and that’s success. You are putting down words and that’s victory. You are jamming up the hill, cresting the top, you are at the zenith of your powers, every time you take the action to write. You are free.