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3 Personal Writing Fears

January 22nd, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
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It’s one of those inevitable writing topics; the tallest hurdle; the constant doubt; the one thing that most gets in your way. Fear.

But far from the grandiose oppressor, it’s often the little things that really get in the way of putting words on the page. That’s why I’m taking a more personal look at three things that stop me from writing on a day-to-day basis (or maybe from week to week).

Horror of writing fears!

Scary image courtesy of u-JU.

So take my trembling hand as we prepare to….

Feel the Fear!

  1. Finishing. “What? Wait, that’s wrong. He can’t mean finishing, surely. It’s starting that sends the shivers! The blank page, the fingers hovering over the keys, the awful blinking cursor! Oh God, hold me!”

    Well, yes of course. But this terrifying beast has grown to such unnatural proportions that it’s poison has seeped back in time to the project before the one I’m scared of starting. You see, so scared am I of starting something new, that I will put off finishing my current project, in the hope of spending more time in it’s comfortable, familiar embrace.

  2. Editing. This is where the real writing is, right? The sculpting of the raw and clumsy words you penned in your first draft. It should be a joy, and to be honest, it is, once I’ve got over the fear.

    The problem here is that I will often put work away for a month or more before I make that first edit. It helps me forget what I’ve written, and so approach it from a more objective viewpoint.

    But whilst locked away in a drawer, trying to be forgotten, it festers and rots, and as the time approaches I become fearful of the ghastly thing I will awaken when I slide the drawer open. What if my writing is so terrible, that I can barely bring myself to read it for the shame? What if it’s beyond repair? What if all that time was wasted?

    Of course, these are silly questions that I know all the retorts to (time writing is never time wasted, and editing even less so, for example. That’s where the learning happens after all), but who said that fear was a rational response to something?

  3. Finding my Place. Now we’re really getting day-to-day. Picture the scene – you’re writing your tale on the dead of night (there is probably thunder and lightning and stuff); you’re on a roll, words gushing out everywhere. But you’re so tired. Surely midnight was only five minutes ago, not two hours! So you drag yourself up and shuffle off to bed.

    But throughout the night you toss and turn, strange visions of work left half finished haunt your dreams! What if you can’t pick up on the threads you left behind? You might forget what was going to come next (and it was so good, too); you might write poorly, unable to replicate the wit and flowing sentences you penned before bed.

    In the morning things feel better, as they often do. But when you next approach that story you decide to take a little browse on the web. Then you make a cup of tea, thumb through a nearby magazine, jot down some ideas for some other projects. Anything, in other words, than face the possibility of not picking up those threads.

Now that we’re all shaking and in a cold sweat, let’s calm down an reflect on what’s really stopping us from writing. Your fears may be different from mine, but I’ve no doubt you’ve got some, and the answer to those fears is probably the same as the answer to mine as well. It can be boiled down to this simple phrase:

Just do it.

Nike should start making pens.

In almost all cases fear is simply a nasty trick you play on yourself. That phrase, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself” endures because it is so insightful. Fear is a mask you design – a frightful visage to hang on those things that make you nervous. Face the fear, and that mask is removed, often revealing that there was nothing there at all.

Do just do it. Just write. And you’ll find your fears were unfounded. Sure, you may still be scared the next time, but keep pushing, and eventually those things won’t frighten you anymore.

I’d like to continue the fear fest, so what are some of the little fears that prevent you writing on a day-to-day basis?

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