MY EXPERIENCE OF THE DREADED ‘WRITER’S FEAR’
I FEAR many things in my life.
Some of them you’ll probably share with me.
But what if I told you I was afraid of writing. What on earth would you make of that?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve only ever wanted to read and write. As a little girl, my mum used to have to wrestle books out of my hands in the morning so she could get me to school on time and at the age of seven or eight, I was busy making magazines from scratch.
I’ve kept journals, written poems and even entered short story competitions.
I did an English degree. I’m a trained journalist.
Hell, words are what make me my living and make no mistake, oh how I love them but yet here I still am, telling you I am afraid of them.
Because I am.
Truly I am.
As I sit here now, typing away, every so often pausing to take in a sip of camomile tea, I can feel butterflies in my stomach. Only ever so slightly but enough to know they are there. To feel that teeny amount of nerves that you get when something really matters to you.
They are here, but on I go.
Because you see, as fearful as I often am about writing, I cannot ever imagine doing anything else. It may sound silly to some, but writing is like air to me. I live off it.
You won’t hear many people talk about the fear they have when they write and some won’t even acknowledge it. But I think that practically every journalist, writer and blogger known to man, will know what I’m talking about here.
They’ll get it. Or at least, they should do.
It’s the fear that the words may not come. Or that, if they do, they won’t be good enough.
It’s the fear that people won’t read your words. That they may die a death before they’ve even had a chance to truly live and breathe.
It’s the fear that if people do read them, they’ll hate what you’ve written or worst still, that they won’t feel anything at all.
What will people think? Am I good enough? What if I can’t finish it?
The fear of writing is ever present when you’re a writer. Over time you get used to it’s presence, learn how to tackle it and even how to to step over it when it really blocks your path.
But recently I’ve been feeling it more then ever.
At the moment I am writing my first book. A childhood dream that low and behold, is about to come true.
I had tears in my eyes when I signed my first publishing contract. Great big watery tears of joy and happiness that threatened to spill over, run down my face and land with a plop into my glass of bubbles.
I am excited. The giddiest of all kippers.
But to let you into a secret, I am also absolutely terrified. Never have I felt the fear more acutely than when I sit down to write the book.
Sometimes, it’s not too bad and I can work with the feeling and get into the zone. Other times I’ve found myself suddenly engrossed in the world of social media.
I’ve walked away from my desk more times than I can count and often find myself suffering from writer’s block, seemingly paralysed by fear.
Career wise, this book is everything I’ve ever wanted and yet, boy, is it hard to finish.
Why? Because of the fear.
The fear that it won’t sell. The fear that people will rubbish it. The fear that people may think I’m getting too big for my heels. All this kind of thing.
Since signing my book deal, I’ve had a constant voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough. That I don’t deserve it. That it’s going to be a disaster.
And let me tell you, doubt and fear are powerful allies.
It would be so easy to say I can’t do this. To walk away and never finish it. The pressure, expectation and hopes we place on ourselves as writers are of huge proportions and often incredibly unfair.
Which is why so many book ideas never become a reality. It is why someone will give up on blogging after just a few short weeks. It is why many people choose to live a life that doesn’t match their talents or desire.
Because when the fear gets you in it’s tight, black, terrifying grip, it’s almost impossible to break free and find a place to breathe freely.
Putting yourself out there is tough!
In an often brutal world, just being yourself can often feel hard enough. So creating something and sharing it with the world? Well that’s just madness right?
Because I am truly terrified.
I’ve wanted to quit at this writing game so many times in my life. Not because I don’t love it, not because I’d rather be doing anything else than this, but because of this fear.
I’m shit scared at what the reaction to my book may be.
I’m fearful that no one will read this post.
I’m terrified that one day I may run out of words or lose the will to work with them completely.
But yet I persist and this is why…
I write because I have no choice. I write because my soul tells me I have to. I write because I need to make sense of the world and my place in it. I write because I want to try and make sense of myself.
I write because doing so makes me feel invincible. I write because I have something to say. I write because I know everyone has a story that is worth telling.
I write because I would be lost without it. I write because I am compelled to. I write because the ideas come to me in the middle of the night when I can’t get to sleep and they keep on coming.
I write because that’s why I’m here. I write because it’s the only thing I’ve ever been able to do. I write because it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.
I write for others. I write for Elsie. But mainly and selfishly, I write for me.
Words are my lifeline. They are also my saviour. They have gotten me through the darkest of days and have taken me to places I never expected to reach.
I’m frightened of their power. I’m nervous about putting them together and I’m terrified I may fail them.
But more than anything, I’m afraid of a life without using them, so the alternative does not appeal.
I write and I hope, I write and I hope and I keep my fingers crossed that everything will turn out well in the end.