I’ve met a lot of people who say they that want to write stories. I know most of them will never get around to it for a variety of reasons. For most of these folks, it won’t matter. Whatever their reasons may be, they really have no intention of writing that story, and failing to do so will leave no hole in their lives—and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this—but for a much smaller subset of these people, not writing that story will matter.
I know this because I was one of those people for a very long time. I wrote my first story in third grade and found something I enjoyed doing and found meaningful. I wrote a “novel” in sixth grade, a second novel in high school, and third one in college. Peppered between these was a bunch of short stories. I tried to publish some things with no success. Shortly after that, I stopped writing for almost twenty years.
I was discouraged, sure, but more than anything, I felt I wasn’t a good enough writer. I felt I wasn’t ready, and that I still needed to grow and experience more in my life. I think there is some truth to that, but only a sliver. I’ve written some stories that I know I could not have written two years earlier. I know this because I tried to write them at one point and wound up abandoning them, only to find them again several years later and craft them into something I could be proud of.
Where that reasoning came up short, however, is that I only came back to those stories after I had decided to give writing one last shot. It wasn’t my lack of “life experience” stopping me, it was that feeling of not being ready. I still remember that moment about 10 years ago when I decided to give writing one more shot. I still felt I wasn’t ready, but I realized at that moment that there was no such thing as “being ready,” so I might as well just get started because the only way I was ever going to get ready was to write.
Now here’s the interesting thing, I think. I’ve been writing for nearly ten years, and the feeling that I’m not ready has never gone away. I’m still never truly ready to write any story because I want every new story I start to push the limits of what I can do. I don’t want to be entirely ready to write that story; otherwise I’ll never grow as a writer and improve my craft.
Don’t let that feeling of not being ready become an excuse for not writing. Not being ready should be a perpetual state of life—it should be the reason you are writing.