The Fear Within
The fear lurks within all who put pen to page or fingers to keyboard. Should I do this? Should I actually sit down and write a story? What do I have to say that others would want to read? Our need to write is deep-seated, something we can’t deny. It’s a craving like you have for a cigarette or a drink of alcohol. Denying ourselves the opportunity to write leaves us with a deep ache within. Yes, we sometimes struggle to write, but we manage to get words down. A sentence here, a short paragraph there. Each word leading to the next, until the start of a story emerges onto the page or screen. The grammar may not be perfect, the sentences rough, but your message to yourself and your readers starts to come through. The plot takes shape with each piece of dialogue you write; the conflict between your protagonist and antagonist grows, heading for the last act. Who will triumph? What did your protagonist learn about herself and the others in her life during the journey to the end? Writers control what emerges in the story.
Once the first draft is finished and you read through the story you laboriously set down, a hint of doubt creeps into your mind. A tiny seed if allowed to take root, will sabotage you. I’m talking about fear. Fear of failure, of not completing what you started. Fear that what you write will not measure up to what’s already out there in eBooks and in print. Fear that you’ve wasted so much time on this story and no one will want to read it.
This fear is normal, but if you start to dwell on it, obsess over it, you may find yourself in a bit of a jam. You begin to find excuses to not sit down and write. I need to walk the dog, weed the garden, and fold the laundry. There’s a TV show I want to watch. The excuses start to build up and you no longer write. However, the urge to write doesn’t go away. What to do, what to do.
Let me tell you something, if you truly love to write, but you feel the fear start to grow, you need to understand one thing: Do not compare yourself to what is already published. The only one you should compare your writing to is your own. The more you write and learn to edit what you write, you increase your skill. Remember, another way to learn to improve your writing abilities is join a good critique group online or in your area; one that points out what is wrong and why it’s wrong in a friendly manner. This is another way to keep the fear at bay.
If you think you need to be the next Stephen King or JK Rowling, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, like so many other writers out there. Set reasonable goals for yourself to help keep the fear at bay. Write short stories in the beginning, then move on to longer pieces. If you let friends and family read what you write, they will more than likely spare your feelings and tell you your story is great. They won’t tell you if something is wrong with your grammar or pov problems.
The fear will always lurk below the surface, each time you sit down to write. You can’t avoid it. But you can acknowledge it, and work it into your writing. Let the fear know you are aware of it, but it has no control over you and the words you write. The pen is in your hand or your fingers rest on the keyboard. You have the power over the fear and the control over your writing.
May the words ever flow!