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Day 6: 31 Days of Daily Inspiration From Brilliant Women

03/06/2013 08:24 am ET | Updated May 06, 2013

Daily Inspiration: Day 6 of 31 Days

"Nature never repeats herself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another." -- Elizabeth Cady Stanton (abolitionist, 1815-1902)

I wanted to be a writer because of Daphne du Maurier. I first fell in love with Rebecca. I memorized that magical opening: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again... I spoke it like a mantra as I went about my teenage days. But reading that book, along with a good chunk of Shakespeare's sonnets soon after, was both a blessing and a curse. The poetic beauty of their words, the sheer brilliance of their stories, inspired and intimidated me in equal measure. I longed to immerse myself in the written word for the rest of my life, but how could I dare to pick up a pen and stare at a blank page with all the greatness that'd gone before me?

For the next ten years, I couldn't. The blank page, the intimidation, was too much. My words weren't their words, I couldn't create their worlds, so what was the point? Eventually I dared but edited myself so endlessly I barely made it past page one. It wasn't until my mid-20s that I could write more than a paragraph. I was 30 before I began believing that perhaps my own self-expression was valid, that I didn't have to be a genius for my words to mean something. It's taken me another five years to fully embrace my personal style and to love it, without apology or excuse. Luckily, it doesn't have to take you that long. Indeed, I recommend skipping my steps altogether and embracing your own beautiful, blissful, brilliant uniqueness right now.

Inspiration From Brilliant Women

For more by Menna van Praag, click here.

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