Writing is something I’ve always wanted to be better at, but for some reason never able to form a routine around until recently. Half way through last year I started a journal with a goal of writing something every day. About 3 weeks into my new writing routine, I read Atomic Habits by James Clear which helped me build on the momentum I had already gained.
With two consecutive months of journal entries behind me, I started thinking about setting a new goal of publishing more. I’d always known this is what I was working towards, and I was excited to share the ideas I’d been exploring. I’d proven I could write, now it was just a case of publishing.
But I couldn’t get there. Every time I would sit down to write a blog post I’d struggle, like I was wading through mud to get my thoughts down. I found it so easy to write in my journal, so I couldn’t understand why I was finding a blog post so hard. It was really frustrating and left me feeling deflated and upset. I have many journal entries on this.
Around the same time I’d started my journal, I also took on a life coach. I’d reached a point in my professional life where I felt stuck and unable to understand the sense of inertia that had set in. There was a lot going on in the world and this probably contributed to this feeling, but it wasn’t the cause. I wanted to understand more about myself, why I felt the way I did and what I should be focusing on.
I’ve been able to dig into a lot of these questions, some of which I’ll write about another time. I’m mentioning this as we spoke at length about this struggle to publish something in a previous conversation. It was incredibly helpful to talk through the emotions I was feeling as a result of this block and to unpack them. As we pushed further into these feelings, I started to see there was some part of me that was sabotaging myself, and didn’t want me to publish anything.
At first this seemed absurd. I love learning and developing new skills, and I’ve always thrown myself into any challenge. It made no sense that I would work against myself to hinder this process, especially when I was enjoying my journal so much.
Then it twigged. I’m not sure why I’d not realised it before, but in a throwaway comment I mentioned not being very confident with my spelling, and then everything clicked.
My spelling has always been a point of discomfort. It makes me feel embarrassed and ashamed. At school it was something my English report always called attention to, and as I’ve gotten older is something work colleagues have often commented on. As the internet took off and the written word proliferated, so did my apprehension about sharing things publicly. This wasn’t for a lack of trying, it’s been something I want to be better at, which only made me harder on myself for my mistakes.
The moment I made this connection, I felt a wave of emotion wash over me. It was both freeing and deeply saddening. The realisation that my fear of spelling mistakes – and the associated judgement – had stopped me expressing myself was heartbreaking. On the other hand it was so liberating to see this false narrative for what it was and be able to move past it.
And so that’s what this post is. It’s an acknowledgement. I’m great, nay exceptional, at a lot of things, and it’s ok if spelling isn’t one of them. It hasn’t stopped me from being a great communicator, and it shouldn’t stop me writing more. Indeed, my apprehension to publish something has been the driving force behind this post. Every time I felt that doubt creep in, it was more reason to keep writing and to get this post out into the world. Spelling mistakes and all*.
*May not contain spelling mistakes.