Let’s be honest, I haven’t written anything in a while. In fact, writing has been one of the last few things on my mind as of late. Which is no surprise considering the whole pandemic and all…
Putting that fact aside, though, the writer in me feels guilty and confused. I mean, a few months ago I was enthusiastic and ready to dive back in again. Return to the triumphant days where I wrote pages, where the words flowed out of me and onto the blank screen. The days where I felt like a writer – someone who had an important story to tell and couldn’t wait for everyone to hear it.
Now, I can’t seem to find that feeling again. The words don’t flow like they used to. I’m lucky if I write a sentence and dreaming if I write a page. When I write, I don’t feel like I have an important story. I don’t know if anyone would even want to hear it.
I’m not as fearless as I once was. Before, I would get negative comments about my story (not criticisms, mind you, but opinions – and yes, there is a difference) and keep writing like their words didn’t tear my story to shreds.
I would remind myself, “That’s just their opinion, don’t take it personally,” and repeat the words, “If it doesn’t help you, throw it away…If it doesn’t help you, throw it away…”
These were mantras that I used religiously. Every time that negative comment came creeping over my shoulder, I simply repeated what was fact. It was an opinion. It wasn’t anything personal. It didn’t help me improve my writing or my story, so I threw it away.
It worked…for a while, at least.
Lately, when those mean words come creeping over my shoulder, they seem immune to my defenses. What were once powerful spells that kept monsters away, are now rusty. And, since we’re being honest here, I don’t know if anything can replace them.
I mean, I’ve tried to come up with something else but nothing seems to work. I clear my mind before I write and it always becomes cluttered with those opinions that haunt my story. I can’t focus on anything else much less escape into a fantasy.
I’m stuck in a never ending sea of negativity and… I’m scared.
Every time I look at those blank pages, all I can think about are those cruel words. I can’t write and worried that I might never be able to again.
I’ve asked other writers about this. Whether it be in forums or another blogger that I follow online, I usually am confronted with the same answer.
“Hey, hang in there! I’m sure your story is great. Sucks that you are feeling this way. Maybe you should try taking a break! Write something else for a while, go out with a friend, or take a few weeks off. Everyone needs a break once in a while!”
And, it’s true. Everyone does need a break once in a while. But, I don’t think I need a break. I mean, it’s been months since I’ve made any actual progress so I guess you could say I’ve been on vacay for a while.
While it’s good advice, I just don’t think that’s what I need. If I was burnt out on writing or feeling uninspired, then maybe a break would be the cure. But, what I have is a fear of writing something that’s not going to be good enough.
This is probably a fear that all (or almost all) writers can agree on. I mean, we put in a ton of time crafting a story from the ground up. We face criticisms, spend hours trying to find the right words, and then edit…then re-edit…then re-edit…then re-edit…then re-edit – okay, you get the idea.
Finally, when we deem our book finished and get it out to the world (however that way may be), there is this fear that the public will tear it to shreds. With not just opinions either but with actual criticisms.
Maybe someone took a joke the wrong way and decided that the book was terrible altogether. Maybe your favorite side character became the one everyone hates. Maybe your writing style didn’t do the story justice.
So many things can happen when your beloved story is handed over to the public. Of course, as reader, we don’t think about these things when we pick up a book because, well, that would kill the mood.
But, as a writer, I become more aware of how important it is to know that almost every author has had this fear. And, they conquered it. They got their book out there. They finished, edited and re-edited that sucker until they finally got it on the shelf.
They were fearless.
So, here I am again staring at that annoying blank page. I’m probably on my second – no, third cup of coffee right now. I keep petting my dogs, trying to distract myself from the fact that I’ve been sitting here for almost thirty minutes trying to write.
I start a sentence. Decide it’s not the right words. Hit backspace.
I start again…Nope, still not right. I hit backspace.
One more time…Maybe start with dialogue – I love dialogue… No, no, no, this is all wrong…Backspace.
As I do this, those negative comments come creeping back up again. They fog my brain. Then, I think about my favorite book. My favorite author. I wondered what thoughts might’ve been going through their mind when they got their first negative comment. Then was reminded of the fact that they published their book anyway.
I began typing again. This time, without fear.
I’m still scared that I may find myself in that sea of negativity again in the future but, for now, I’m glad that I’m able to find shore again.
I’m not the writer I used to be. I no longer write pages at a time but a few paragraphs at a time are good enough for now. Of course, I’ll shoot higher and aim for a page a day. But, right now, I think it’s important not to stress myself out over it.
If I write a few paragraphs that day then great! If not, then there’s always tomorrow. I want to love writing again, not worry that I’m not doing enough. So, for now, I’ll do what I can and see where I go from there.
If you find yourself fearful of the blank page or have some negative comments that are haunting your story, then try thinking about your favorite author. Think about how they probably had the same fear you do now. Think about how they kept writing in spite of that fear. And, remember that you can too.
You can also try creating a mantra for yourself. Like I said, it worked for me once. I just think I grew out of it as a writer and needed something new to work with.
If you try either of these methods or have one of your own, feel free to tell me how they work out for you in the comments. Also, consider giving this post a like or even following the blog for more content like this. Whatever you decide, I know that your support will be greatly appreciated.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go refill my coffee.