Write On Wednesday: Fear of Writing

400px-fujisunrisekawaguchiko2025wp-1Sometimes writing scares me. I have things I want to write about, exciting ideas that often come to mind while I’m doing something completely un-writerly like grocery shopping or exercising. My heart races a little bit, a shiver runs down my spine. I rummage around looking for a notebook and pen, a leftover to-do list, something to make a note of this amazing idea before it gets lost in the detritus of everyday thinking.

Then comes the scary part.

No matter how good I think the idea is, I’m afraid to start writing about it. Afraid to sit down in front of that blank computer screen and do the labor to bring that idea into the world.

What is so frightening? What is it that stills my fingers and pushes that idea to the back of my mind? Is it the fear of failing – that I won’t be able to do this thing justice, make of it what I know it could be? Am I worried that this magical notion really isn’t magical at all, and that once I begin to flesh it out on the page it will turn into a deformed monster rather than a beautifully realized story?

Could it be that I’m terrified of what I might discover about myself if I go deep enough inside my heart to bring this story to the world? Terrified to take the risk of exposing myself, my talent (or lack of it), my story?

“The risk of writing is an internal risk,” says Laraine Herring in her book Writing Begins with the Breath. “You brave the depths of your own being and then bring it back up for commentary by the world. Not the work of wimps. Many writers would likely rather climb Mt. Fuji than go in there, but in there is precisely where you must go. You can’t really prepare yourself for what’s in there because you don’t know all that’s in there.”

I’m not a mountain climber. Sometimes- especially when it comes to writing- I’m a wimp. I’m afraid of the unknown, afraid of change.

I don’t like taking risks.

But I do know that the well of ideas and emotions living inside me need to find their way into the world, need to come to life on the page. And I must find the courage to start putting them there.

Anaïs Nin once wrote this: And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom.

I think I’m ready for that day.

How about you? What fears stop you from writing? Are you able to take the risk and bloom?

*this post was originally published on the Write On Wednesday blog, September 28, 2011

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4 thoughts on “Write On Wednesday: Fear of Writing

  1. I sometimes think that what I am writing about is insignificant or that there are many more qualified people in this world that could do a better job than I. I love to write about things I am passionate about. I guess when I am passionate about something that gives me the inspiration to write about whatever it is I am writing about.

  2. I know this is a struggle for you, and I wish I had something eloquent and insightful – even useful! – to say. But I don’t, so I’ll just jot down a few thoughts that came to me while I was reading this.

    I’ve never been afraid of writing. I’ve worried about whether something would make sense. I’ve procrastinated because I wasn’t sure of my direction. I’ve had to leave some things in the files because I just can’t make them work. But none of that is really being afraid of “writing”.

    Sometimes, when I read snippets from these people who write books about writing, I think, “They’re making way too big a deal of this.” Take the person you quoted above: “You brave the depths of your own being and then bring it back up for commentary by the world.” It reminds me of me during my cigarettes, Sartre and white Russian days in college. So much angst, so much pretension. Writing isn’t psychotherapy – it’s writing, for heaven’s sake!

    I guess the thing I’ve learned that seems most important is that I’m in control of what appears on the page. I can’t control how people respond to it, but the words? They’re all mine. That seems exciting rather than frightening – and it’s fun, too.

    I’ve always thought the best way to learn to write is to write. So, that’s what I do. There was a time in my life when I’d tie myself up in knots with questions like, “Will it be good enough?” Now, I don’t worry about it at all. I just try to make “it” good.

  3. That Nin quote is one of my favorites. For a very long time I had a lovely print with that one calligraphied on it. It’s interesting — I can write every day at work. I can blog incessantly. But to start to put my own thing out there — that’s a little hard. Yet, like with my drawing, writing requires practice so it becomes “just what you do.” It’s a practice in which I need to better engage myself. And someday, I hope I do.

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