Figuring out what today’s topic would be was strangely difficult. I went through several possibilities, each one more forced than the last, my writing getting stiffer with every word and my voice getting lost in the facts. You see, I’m still in the early planning stages of my novel, which is the first of a book series, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself so I limited the topics to pre-writing, or general writing. To make things more difficult, I have a wicked case of writer’s block.
Then a close friend of mine suggested (as I was banging my head against the desk in an oddly soothing rhythm) that I write about just that: writer’s block. Writer’s block is… a difficult topic. Not just because it’s a pain in my behind, but because it’s so difficult to pinpoint and explain. Most posts about writer’s block that don’t have a more specific topic end up being about nothing, which is why I decided to write about fear.
I know a lot about fear. This may be drifting into uninteresting territory, but I have an anxiety disorder, one severe enough that it’s affected my life in irreparable ways, but mild enough that I can usually keep it from people unless they witness something. Along with basic social anxiety, I have a disorder that made it extremely difficult to go to school and had me self-sabotaging my schoolwork (I was that annoying kid who could get perfect scores without studying). This disorder, as any anxiety disorder, is based in fear: either a fear of failure or a crippling fear of success.
This is something that I’ve noticed has traveled into my writing. Where it used to be a refuge that I would use to calm myself before my attacks got too bad or to distract myself when I was depressed and upset, it’s become a point of stress. I will always write and I will always need to write to feel complete, but sometimes I question if I’m able to write as a career, if I’m really good enough to make it as a published writer.
I’m sure this is something that all of you have struggled with at some point or another. Fear and doubt can be good. It can help writers be critical of themselves or it can help them with timing and research. Overconfidence is not a good quality for a writer to have.
However, it can also be bad. It can paralyze us, like it so often paralyzes me. Sometimes, writer’s block is because of fear: a fear that we’re truly not writers, that we’re foolish for thinking otherwise and we’ll never make a difference, never get published. Or, it is a fear of success, that we are as good as some people say and then they’ll be expectations. God, I hate expectations.
This is why I fear blank pages. I fear that I am not a good writer and everyone I know say that I am to make me feel better, but at the same time I fear that I am just as good as they say. Then where will I be? Instead of a sad 22-year old with a dream, I’ll be a writer with responsibilities and obligations and, good Lord, fans to make happy. Success terrifies me just as much as failure does.
But, I won’t give up. I’ll keep writing and trying to get over my fear. I’ll use that fear to make better stories and produce better work. Someday, maybe I’ll get my success and I’ll stop being the disappointment, or maybe I’ll have to move on to other things and write for my own amusement. Either way I won’t stop writing.
How about you? Do you ever feel like you’re afraid of writing or what your writing could do? Am I just a crazy person or can you relate, too? What’s your greatest obstacle in writing?