Laughter and books make life a little easier

I am afraid of writing

I am afraid of writingI had a very intense July. On top of everything else I did I realised that the reason behind all of my procrastinating to write is not laziness. It’s fear.

Fear is the reason why I get stuck on the planning phase, and the reason why I overthink all the little details and never progress.

I am afraid. That is why I have about four unfinished manuscripts, but I have never revised any of them.

I am afraid of my own writing.

And still I don’t know where the seat of this fear is. I know that I have unreasonable anxiety about opening my writing software, and I know that even once I have opened it I still do my best to avoid looking at the old writing.

I’d rather write something new than read what I’ve already written. I don’t know what I’m afraid of. I’m not afraid that it’s good. I know it’s not good. It’s a first draft, come on, and I’m fully aware of its lack of quality.

And thus I’m automatically not afraid it’s bad. Just last week I found a passage that sounded like it was written by a really young fanfiction writer. Unfortunately it was written by me. Last year, in fact. It made me wonder what I had spent the last ten years doing because that passage was so flat I felt I have never made any progress.

But hey, you deal with it. It’s what writing is. I rewrote that passage and I hope it’s much better now. It’s way less wordy, which is generally an improvement in my experience. Then, once I was done, something strange happened yet again. I’m not afraid of that specific passage any more.

If I have learnt only one thing in the past few years it’s that the only way to get rid of fear is to pass through it and emerge free from the other side. Fear is dangerous and controlling, but you can’t let it have that kind of power over you. I’m not going to let it win and so the only thing that I can do is face down all of the passages of writing that I’m afraid of.

Before I realised the true base of my fear, I entered myself for Camp NaNoWriMo this July. By trying to force myself to reach a word count goal, I finally clicked what was really going on. However, my failure to meet the word count goal I set myself was almost astronomical. I initially set a goal of 20,000 words, but shortly afterwards realised it was not going to happen. Then I dropped my goal to 15,000 and it still did not happen. Now I’m hoping to get 7,500. I should be able to get at least 6,000, and I’m going to try to at least reach this tiny goal. I failed at everything else so I just need to feel that I can accomplish something.

As much as I would like to do everything, I can’t. I couldn’t write all of those scripts for the Shakespeare cartoons, and write Camp NaNoWriMo and deal with work deadlines. Not a lot of sleep or exercise was going on over here this month. I mostly just transitioned from my work computer to my home computer and continued all of the stuff that I had to do. Most nights I wanted to keel over, not figure out why I’m afraid of novel revision.

But it’s over now and I learnt something about my fears. And 6,000 words is better than the nothing it would definitely have been if I had not entered for Camp NaNoWriMo.


Have you ever experienced an irrational fear surrounding your own writing?


4 responses

  1. It’s interesting you were stopped by the NaNoWriMo word count. I’m a teacher and always try to finish writing this stupid book in the summer. I make charts and block out my time and last exactly two weeks. It’s like the concept of writing looms over me like a big taskmaster with a whip. All the joy is gone. This year, I got this amazing book called “Write Your Novel in 90 Days” or something like that. I made it a week. It’s like the idea of writing takes away the freedom of writing. If writing was a person, we’d be in a faceoff, just staring at each other. The concept of writing becomes this entity stopping me from writing. Good for you for even trying the NaNoWriMo thing. I’m so baffled by their instructions and all the other stuff attached I don’t even try!!

    July 30, 2015 at 19:38

    • I’ve done NaNoWriMo five times and completed the challenge four times. I’m not scared of the word count any more. This was just Camp NaNoWriMo where you can set your own word count goals and is supposed to be much more for fun. I don’t know where I went wrong on that part.
      The regular NaNoWriMo is simpler in a way. You have to write 50,000 words of the first draft of a novel in the 30 days of November. That’s it. There are no other strings or instructions attached. It works for me, maybe because I have to be kicked into action to get anything done, simply because it gets me to commit and write every day. There is no rule that says you have to do that, but if you don’t write every day you will really suffer to complete the challenge. I’ve done that too, and it’s no fun.

      August 3, 2015 at 00:39

  2. Yes, and now I find it very difficult to write anything at all. Convinced that it’s all shit shit shit so now my brain seems to have put a permanent block on. But I have hopes of getting it lifted. If this sounds crazy it’s probable that it is.

    July 30, 2015 at 19:38

    • It doesn’t sound crazy, I know that voice. I think it helps to remember that writer’s block is something you do to yourself. It’s not an external force affecting you, therefore you also have to power to influence and change it.
      Maybe you could try using plot generators or writing prompt sites for inspiration. That often works for me.

      August 3, 2015 at 00:43

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