“I write in terror. I have to talk myself into bravery with every sentence, sometimes every syllable.” Cynthia Ozick
Are you afraid to write? I am. Every time I start to put words on paper to write an article for my blog, I am apprehensive. As usual my censor kicks in and I start asking questions like: Can I pull it off? Do I have anything to say that no one has said before? Do I have anything to say in my own special way that no one has said before? Will I be exposed as a fraud? Will readers notice my pathetic efforts? Or will they recognize themselves in my story and agree with what I have to say or write?
John Cheever called the life of a serious writer “quite a dangerous career.”
It is the same when I start writing a book. After much thinking and planning, when the time comes for me to sit at my desk and start the actual writing I get anxious. I try to busy myself with different tasks, tasks that I create simply to stall that moment. First I am scared that I won’t finish it or that my idea is not good enough for a book. What if all goes well and no publisher will publish it?
It is not the writing that causes my fears. But what will people’s reaction be? What will they think once they read my writing?
To write well, I might write honestly. But what if my honesty will harm certain people? Do I still write? Or do I pretend to be nice and write guardedly to protect certain people and relationships? Arthur Miller wrote:
“The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.”
I am paralyzed by my anxiety and I unnecessarily block myself. But when I don’t let these anxieties take hold of me and I come to terms with them I can keep on writing. And I know that I am writing about something important in my life because I am scared. Because:
“When you stiffen you know that whatever you stiffen about is very important. The stuff is important, the fear itself is information.”