What’s your biggest fear? What causes your hands to sweat and your stomach to roll?
Being alone? Failure? Planes?
Whatever that fear is, someone in this vast world shares it. I can guarantee you are not alone.
Writers – even the most prolific – can stumble through a minefield littered with anxiety and fear. Whether it’s the fear of the blinking cursor (blank page if you’re old-school) or the fear of rejection, almost every writer stumbles upon a stage that makes their hands tremble.
Why? Because writing is a very personal experience. It’s a peek under the writer’s skin and into the recesses of their mind. It reveals things that we’d probably rather stay hidden. We are exposed, sprawled out naked on the page for everyone to see.
We are vulnerable. It’s unnerving for even the strongest soul.
It’s no secret I’m a hot mess of anxiety. I’m torn because of the constant need to write, to record the stories that are bouncing around in my head onto paper (or screen as the case may be) juxtaposed with the panic inducing fear of exposure. Of judgement. Of failure.
Try something new. Don’t try to brush off the anxiety and the worry. Don’t ignore it. Use it. Write what you fear the most, write the tender parts of your psyche.
But I can’t write about that! What if people think I’m weird? What if my mom reads it??
I’m pretty sure Mandela said it best: Courage is not the absence of fear, but bravery in the face of it. Find the courage to write while your heart pounds out of your chest and your hands shake.
If you’re not scared, you’re not writing. –Ralph Keyes, The Courage to Write
Our best writing – that from our authentic selves – is steeped in embarrassment and fear. Use it, don’t let it use you. If you find yourself mortified and blushing while you write, that is the material worth writing about.
If you are procrastinating or your mind keeps trying to change the subject or divert your focus – wrestle it back. Write about what keeps you up at night. Write what gives you nightmares.
That’s the writing that will pull the reader in, that’s what will wring their emotions and keep them turning page after page.
Get a cup of coffee/tea/water/whiskey – whatever beverage you like to have on hand when you write. Set aside some chocolate or cookies to help balm your ravaged soul afterwards.
Ready? Look deep. What scares you? Was there a trauma back in high school that still makes you toss and turn at night? Does public speaking cause your knees to knock? Snakes? Failure? Death? Pick one – or more if you’re really brave – and write. Really write. Dig down and rifle through the locked drawers in your mind. Own that fear. Write it out.
You can keep it short – 500 to 1,000 words is fine – or long if you’re in the groove. Just write. Then step back. Put it aside for a few days and then reread it. How does it look with distance? Did it make you feel?
How did this exercise worked for you? Comment below. Share. I’d love to hear from you!
[Note: This post was inspired by a book I’m in the middle of reading. An older but worthwhile book that I stumbled upon at the library this past weekend – The Courage to Write, by Ralph Keyes. I highly recommend picking up a copy. There’s tons of valuable info within the pages.]