I tried to write books as a kid. Novels. I still remember some of the concepts and characters.
I also remember being steamrolled by doubt. I would sit down full of excitement, and soon I’d be overwhelmed. Things that seemed clear just moments before – who would say what, what would happen when – became complicated and fuzzy. In my head, it was awesome. On paper, it looked confused, childish, and unartful. I was ashamed. I was sure I was doing it wrong.
I bet my writing was confused, childish and unartful. (I was, after all, a child, and confused.) But my biggest problem wasn’t lack of skills. It was lack of tolerance for the unknown. My American upbringing had taught me that knowing was good, not-knowing was bad. Simple. But left alone with a blank page and a head full of ideas, there was no way to ignore that yucky feeling of uncertainty, no clear path to the safe ground of knowing. The idea that sitting in my soupy confusion could ever lead to something positive never entered my head. Instead, I just figured I was flawed.
I kept trying, but I didn’t finish those books. Feeling ashamed really steals your mojo.
It’s taken me decades to shift my relationship with “I don’t know.” It still scares me, still has the power to paralyze. But slowly I’m learning that not-knowing is where making begins. It’s the vacuum that creating seeks to fill.
"I don’t know what this feeling is, this idea, this story. I don’t know how to move it from inside my head out into the world. I don’t even know why I’m compelled to try."
These feelings aren’t reasons to stop. They’re why I start.
I don’t know.
Possibly the most important words for making anything.
I don’t know.