I’m going on an assumption here, but I think that majority of writers and aspiring writers is, at some point of time and their writing career, getting over the fear of writing—or at least trying to get over it. It’s usually the fear of being not good enough, of writing something that won’t be worth reading, or even worrying of how the readers will react to our innermost thoughts.
The reasons for such fear are plenty. It might be as little as a rejection or a negative review, but it also might be a part of writer’s block, growing depression, or the self-doubt that is harder to get rid off than a seasonal cold. There doesn’t seem to be a universal remedy or a reliable treatment for that ailment, and every writer ends up coping with it in their own way.
I’m not any different, and the fear of writing is an old friend of mine… or should I rather say, an old enemy? Sometimes I discard it, too excited about the project I’m working on, but sometimes it sneaks in, invited by my self-doubt and circumstances.
My secret to getting over the fear of writing is that I dance.
Dancing has always been one of those arts that I loved, but was never good at it. Even though I attended classes in many different styles, and enjoyed most of them, I was always aware that I’d never make it to the stage-worthy level. Not that it bothered me, because I enjoy dancing the most when… I’m alone. I can put on some fun music and just move to it, expressing myself in a mixture of styles and random arm jerks alike. I lose myself in the dance and in the sheer joy of moving to the music.
I’m sure I look like an idiot having an epilepsy attack, but I don’t care.
In a way, the saying “dance like no one is watching,” is very true to me, and it helps me remember that I should be writing the same way: like no one is watching, because no one really is. Sure, later I’ll have to worry about things like editing the story properly, and whether my beta-readers will the story as much as I do, but until then, I have nothing to fear.
I can lose myself in writing the story.
I might not be conquering my fear, because I know it’s going to be back. It’ll gnaw on me again and again, and in a way, I know it’s a part of being a writer. But what I can do is to ensure that it doesn’t haunt me when its time hasn’t come yet. After all, if at the end I deem the story completely worthless and irreparable, I don’t have to share it with anyone.
Writing might be work, even hard work on occasion, and it might bring stress, doubts, and tiredness around, but the reason we become writers is because we love it, we love telling stories, isn’t it? And even if we have to face our fears, we shouldn’t deny ourselves the joy that comes from doing what we’re passionate about.
So, go ahead. Write like no one’s watching.
Or dance, play an instrument, create art. Kill the fear of writing, of being creative, with the excitement. You’ll worry about what others think later.
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.