It’s been a year since I graduated from the USC screenwriting program, and in that year I’ve learned a number of lessons: there are a number of dinner recipes out there that don’t include pasta, perfection is not attainable, decaf coffee is a cruel joke.
The most important lesson of all, however, is how to write through fear.
Fear stops us from putting pen to paper: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of criticism. As a recent graduate working at an agency, I faced fear at work, too: fear of sending a client to the wrong meeting location, fear that something was slipping through the cracks, fear that I would never measure up and no one would help me find that next job.
Counting the possible ways you could never measure up is exhausting, and I struggled with this for the first few months after graduation. How could I still see myself as a creative human being, as a writer, if I was only scribbling sonnets or hundred word short stories that read more like cries for help than real prose?
I struggled through writing things that I deemed didn’t matter instead of jumping into something that did: I was frozen, and couldn’t start my next pilot script.
Then, I decided to no longer be afraid. I gave myself permission to fail — at work, at life, at cooking something other than boxed macaroni and cheese, at my writing.
I started waking up at 5am to work on that next thing, carving out those precious morning moments and giving them to myself as a gift. Here is your time to fail.
I didn’t fail, though. I wrote a new pilot, and then rewrote it. I showed up to my writing groups with pages in hand, I went to the people I trusted with a story to tell.
I’m a year out and I’m a step closer to my eventual reality of being a professional TV writer: every day I’m learning how to not let the space between where I am and where I want to be terrify me.
Every day I’m acknowledging the fear of failure, but not letting it consume me.