A writing dilemma.

A writing dilemma.

Aug
07

16 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

Right now I’m procrastinating on my writing for Camp NaNo. But right now I’m also writing this post, so it evens out.

Writing is a tricky, tricky thing.

In fact, I have a love/hate relationship with writing.

I love that writing is freeing, giving, senseless, overwhelming, strategic, careful, careless, spontaneous, a jumbled mess of emotions and utterly contradicting.

I hate that writing is constricting, strenuous, overwhelming, planned, stressful, toying, and – you guessed it – contradicting.

But writer or no writer, you already know all this.

The biggest issue I have with writing is the fear that comes along with it (or even the lack thereof). Most times when I write, I write for me. I’m a personal writer; I rarely ever share my work with others, unless it’s shared with trusted individuals or forced for a class. Sometimes I think this shouldn’t make sense, because by day I’m also a blogger, and blogging is writing. I share my writing with all of you, with the entirety of the internet, on a daily basis. So why is it that I don’t want to share what doesn’t make it onto the site, my creative writing?

The answer is simple: fear.

But it’s not the fear you might think. As a writer, I’m not afraid of rejection or harsh critiques. As a writer, I’m afraid of the impacts my stories will have on readers (re: again, lack thereof), of their uniqueness (or rather, commonality), of their skill level. Of course, some writing is always meant to be private and for your eyes only. But there’s always writing that’s meant (or intended) to be shared. But I have the hardest time sharing it. I fear a void of reaction. Of course, this is a lose-lose situation. If I don’t show anyone my work, then naturally there will be a void of reaction. And yet I find myself still stuck in this loop.

The hardest part of this for me is knowing that I’m not following my own mantra, my own advice and cause:

I am a writing consultant. Students come to me for any and all writing-related issues. And I take pride in being a writing consultant, for being the one to tell you that you don’t need to be afraid of writing because it’s always going to be there for you, it’s always going to be what you make of it – it’s your words, your style, your voice. Writing is all about you.

(Although this happens almost all of the time) I was once told by someone that they hate writing. They hate writing papers, they hate keeping journals, they hate creating stories, they just hate writing. Period. I asked them why, and they told me it was because they knew they weren’t good at it, because they didn’t want to be told they weren’t good at it. I told them they didn’t hate writing, they were afraid of writing. Then I told them not to be afraid, because every time you write, you get a little better. You still may not enjoy it, and it may not be the thing for you, but you won’t have to be afraid. There’s nothing to be afraid of if you know you’re doing your best writing, if you’re doing the kind of writing you want to do. You don’t have to love it or like it.

I think back to that moment every time I feel the fear. I like to think it helps me get one step closer. After all, writing’s all about discovering and journeying.

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16 Responses to “A writing dilemma.”

  1. It’s good advice. I got really scared after my first book started geting reviewed. They were pretty good reviews, but suddenly yhere was pressure to “keep it up” rather than just writing for fun.

    • Alissa says:

      I think there are many forms of pressure that appear and disappear as the writing process progresses. Each one is like a new challenge.

  2. Nikki Steele says:

    Maybe it’s best then to think of this blog as practice grounds — your voice always seems to come out effortlessly and I find it enjoyable to read.

  3. We Heart YA says:

    It’s always easier to give advice than to take it. But you’re obviously very aware of yourself, and the naturalness of this feeling, so we have no doubt that you can progress beyond it.

    Except, the truth is, the fear never really goes away. It just lessens — ebbs and flows. The best thing to do to “cure” it, it is just to force yourself to face it. To put yourself, your work, out there, time and time again. In baby steps, maybe, but definitely do it. That’s how you get better, stronger, braver.

  4. Anne says:

    I am procrastinating my nano-vel as well! I’m having a much harder time this time around, and I’m not sure why. But I totally understand your fear. Most of my writing I won’t let out of my sight because I dont’ have the time to edit it. In fact, I’m almost more afraid of the editing stage, of feeling like my writing is crap! lol. Anyway, good luck to you, here’s to finishing camp nano! 🙂

  5. I absolutely LOVE this post. I agree with a lot of what you said, especially about being “afraid” of writing. Sometimes, writing becomes intimidating to me, even if I’ve been doing it for so long. Your post has a ton of great reminders about writing and why we shouldn’t fear it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Alissa says:

      Aw, thank you, Alexa. It means a lot.

      Like some have said, the fear can be a constant presence, but I like to think we can rise above it.

  6. Liz. R says:

    I personally don’t like writing at all (creative writing that is, blogging is different :P). I don’t hate it…but while I may fear it a bit, that’s not the only reason for why I don’t write. I just don’t like it. My family think it’s odd as I love reading so much, but writing for me is completely different. I like the idea of writing – coming up with something that people can really enjoy, or that changes people or makes them feel better – but I can’t enjoy it. It’s too much effort, requires a lot of patience and is very tiring. I don’t have the stomach for it, I guess! I get bored, I run out of ideas and even if I do come up with something good, I’m at a loss as to how to put it into words, so I just give up because it’s too much work. So I commend writers, because I can understand just exactly how much time and perseverance goes into writing. Me, though – I’ll be sticking to reading :P.

    • Alissa says:

      I think the amount of time that goes into writing is a major issue for writers, or aspiring writers. Especially because some achieve success in less time than others. It’s hard to put in so much time and effort to something only to see little results.

      But I don’t think it’s odd at all that you don’t like to write! It’s totally possible to be a reader and not a writer.

  7. I love this post! All your reasons for fearing are the ones that are always in the back of my head. My biggest fear: Am I good enough to tell this character’s story? Yet, telling the story is like a disease – once it gets in my head, I can’t shake it. So, I write. And then I flail. And then I write some more.

    I can’t seem to help myself.

    • Alissa says:

      I think being unable to stop writing is one of the better ways to tell (or prove to yourself) that you are a writer.

  8. Logan says:

    Good luck with Camp NaNo! I should be doing it, but August is too busy for me. I’ll be doing it again in November, though.

    I think fear is so hard to overcome in writing. Even if I’m the only one seeing it I am such a self-critic that I have a hard time letting go of the fear. It’s one of the reasons I like doing NaNo – it makes me move past that inner editor. Great post Alissa!

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