Fear kept me from writing for a very long time.
It was a fear of failure.
I had a bad writing experience as a child and I was so disappointed in myself that I gave up. I didn’t understand the creative process. I didn’t understand that you have more than one shot to get it right (this is especially true with writing). Now I know better. It doesn’t bring back those lost years but I can now disregard that tiny voice that says I’m no good.
Another fear that I’m still dealing with is sharing my work. I don’t know what it is that terrifies me so much…
Criticism? Not really – I kind of already know what’s wrong with my stuff. The adage that you are your own worst critic is definitely true for me. I actually like feedback – it gives me a good chuckle sometimes.
I think owning my writing is what I’m really afraid of – claiming something imperfect. Because I am a serial perfectionist.
When I talk about fear, I’m not talking about butterflies-in-your-stomach-nervousness level fear. I’m talking about voice-shaking-heart-exploding-from-your-chest-hyperventilation level fear.
For my writing group this last week, I had been preparing myself to pass my writing sample around and have it read silently. I was pretty comfortable with that (read: still a little nervous about it). I hadn’t made any suggestions about our method of sharing – I hadn’t wanted anyone to feel uncomfortable (read: I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable) . So, that’s what I was prepared for, psychologically – having other people read my work to themselves. You can imagine my panic when I went to writing group and it was suggested that we read our stuff aloud…
Like, MAJOR panic, people.
And I had to. My writing group ladies (very politely) wouldn’t take no for an answer. And truthfully, I didn’t want to say no…
Alright, I wanted to, but I knew it would be good for me so I sucked it up…Also, I didn’t want to be the only person who refused, making myself look like a child throwing a temper tantrum.
And you know what? I love them for not letting me wriggle out of it. And I love myself for being brave despite how I was feeling on the inside. I can’t tell you how much anxiety I had as I was reading. It was very difficult. I know it’s just reading – I read aloud all the time to my children and it’s fun…When it’s your own stuff it’s different. I know that doesn’t seem rational, but that’s how it is – I can’t explain it, even to myself.
The wonderful women in my writing group were so supportive – it was just a great experience and I really enjoyed the whole night – despite how hard it was. I know it will still be hard next time, but I’m hoping it will be a little less hard.
It’s a fear I’d like to overcome someday. That probably won’t happen before the next writer’s group meeting, but you never know…