I’ve been writing for about 15 years now. I’ve written 4 e-books and just had my first trade book published, in print. I’ve got a blog which has around 1000 subscribers.
And I still have major anxiety about writing. I mean, is there any writer who doesn’t have anxiety?
I began the #AnxiousWriters hashtag yesterday to be honest about my fears about writing, and to provide a safe space for others to share theirs, and know they aren’t alone.
I knew other writers struggled with anxiety about writing. But the response has overwhelmed even me. And now I don’t feel so alone.
There’s so much fear in writing. And the reason for that is because when you write, and especially when you share your work publicly – and by publicly, I mean you share it with one person who isn’t you – you are putting a piece of your soul out there into the world. You’re exposing a part of who you are with others.
And that’s freaking terrifying. No matter how long you’ve been writing, it’s still scary.
Because your writing isn’t just words on a page. It’s a part of who you are. It’s like an extra body part. Sharing your work can be like putting a crucial body part out there publicly, vulnerable to attack from any predator. Your writing is part of who you are.
So of course we’re afraid.
This fear is so paralysing it can stop us even beginning in the first place. You’ll find literally any excuse not to write. And being creatives, we can dress it up in any language we like.
I just need to make a coffee.
I just need to go get my breakfast (which was the one I used to try and avoid writing this, btw).
I just need to go for a walk to get out of my head.
I’m too tired from my walk, I need a nap first.
The day’s over now, there’s not enough time. Maybe tomorrow.
It’s tomorrow. But I’m not qualified to write about this.
OK maybe I’ll try. But It’ll be rubbish, be rejected and my soul will be in pieces.
Any of these sound familiar? And you notice the very structural form of these, how they kind of flow into each other?
It’s truly amazing just how well we can create stories to avoid us doing the work of writing, and sharing our work. It’s a testament to the creativity we all have within us.
If you’re an anxious writer, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re likely in the majority. It kind of goes with the territory. And it’s what makes your work so valuable. Because your story is unique, it’s yours, and it has value because you have value.
What I try to tell myself is that my work’s value doesn’t come from others opinions of it. Or even from my opinion of it.
My work has value because I have value. My story has value because it’s mine. And frankly, who cares what others think? If they’ve got problems with it, that’s their issue, not mine. And it’s the same with your work too. It has value because you have value. Your story matters because YOU matter.
One of the biggest reasons for that is that writing is a lot like life. Writing taps into the truth of who we are, and we ALL have anxieties and fears, about our value, about who we are, many rooted in our traumas and experiences.
I went through a major childhood trauma, which made me into a people pleaser, afraid of rejection, always feeling the outsider. So sharing my work, for a long time, became about feeding my ego. Until I had a few failures, got some counselling, and grew up a bit. I took some time away from public writing, and just wrote for me. It was the time I felt most alive, where I produced my best and most creative work, and ultimately found my voice.
But even now, I’m anxious sharing blog posts which speak a truth about me. Last week I blogged about experiences with mental illness, which was probably the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever shared. It was terrifying…but since, I’ve realised I’m not alone, and it’s resonated with others, and I suddenly feel I’m not alone.
We’re In This Together
I began the hashtag #AnxiousWriters as a space to be vulnerable and honest about my writing struggles…I never thought it would resonate with so many. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because it kinda goes with the territory doesn’t it?
So if you’re a writer, and you’re anxious, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of us. And we’re all on this journey together. (you can tweet that).
Indeed, the reason I created a writing challenge on the theme of fear was for the same reason. We’re writers. We’re anxious. We have fears. And we need to confront those fears – and do it together, because this fear it affects us all.
So let’s not let the anxiety win. Let’s go kick some writing butt, and share our stories with the world…because your work has value, because YOU have value. And the world needs your creative work. Even if you’re the only person who reads it, it’s worth it.
Because ultimately, the person who most needs your story written, might actually be you.
What are your biggest anxieties as a writer? Share them with the #AnxiousWriter hashtag on Twitter
If you’re interested in confronting your fears as a writer, sign up below to join my 7 day writing challenge on fear this week & get the support you need.
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Picture Source: James Prescott via Canva
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