I am afraid of writing
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?
This entry was posted on July 29, 2015 by Elana. It was filed under Meta-writing and was tagged with camp nanowrimo, creative writing, fears, metawriting, procrastination, writing, writing about not being able to write... it's very meta.