Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Courage to Write

"Advising writers to go ahead and ignore their anxiety and forge ahead is like telling a ten-year-old who's about to get a shot, "There's nothing to be scared of." That kid knows better. So do writers." (from The Courage to Write-How Writers Transcend Fear by Ralph Keyes)

I just started reading this book and am finding it tremendously useful. To be cliche',  writing is as essential to my life as breathing.
Even so, I love it and I hate it.
Getting the narrative out of my head and into print is freeing
Getting the narrative out of my head and into print is terrifying.

My husband is a salesman. He says he enjoys what I write and he is convinced that there are novels in my head that are just waiting to be written and that I need to do that, and what is holding me back?
Holding me back?
He is a salesman. He experiences rejection often, from people rejecting the product he is selling. Self doubt can kill a salesman, and he refuses to go there and instead pushes past it. My husband always analyzes and pinpoints where he went wrong during a presentation. He has a formula that was developed from the agency he works for and it is a wonderful thing. His day of appointments might go miserably but he can look at the formula see where he is off and adjust accordingly. The formula supports him and he uses his talent to amplify it, but the support structure is always there.

If writing were like that, all the people who dream of writing would probably be published. There is no support structure in an empty page, or as -of -yet nameless characters or stories that need to be fleshed out and brought to life that are simply residing in the mind.

The truth is, writing is scary on many different levels.  There is the letting go part and allowing the story to develop and characters to become themselves and the writer giving up some modicum of control to let the magic happen.

There is the "THAT came out of MY HEAD??? What kind of sick FREAK am I? No one can see this, I shouldn't see this!!" and that section, which added a needed third dimension to the story is deleted.

Anxiety.  From the blank page staring back...and a peck at the keyboard."NO. Wrong letter, I can't start with that ." delete again.  Anxiety that people will actually read...or worse, not read what is written. Anxiety that one is revealing too much of their inner life on a page and it is there in black and white.
(I'm feeling naked here)

Writing-at least for me- is a battle of will. The narrative in my head flows so well, but gets lost on the way to my fingers. Reading it on paper makes me self conscious and tempted to play it safe.  Safe does not work and I have to push past safe into areas so far out of my comfort zone that I never imagined they existed.

Knowing that well known and highly regarded authors struggle(d) through every word, eases my mind  and gives me pause to think that even though I am not known, nor published, (or anything else like these people I admire), they push through the same struggles I am having- and survived.


  1. Thank you for sharing from your heart! Writing can definitely be very scary. I feel like I've had writer's block for, oh... about 10 years. ugh. I sure enjoy reading your blog. Definitely keep pushing through!

  2. Amen to that, sister! Writing assumes two very scary ideas for me: 1) I have something worth writing about, and 2) I can articulate it into words! ...always very tricky when it comes to relating to the invisible, anonymous reader - much less the publisher! You have a very nice voice, though, and I hope you go far.


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