What if my stories are terrible? What if I like my stories, but no one else does? What if I and other people like my stories, but I am unable to turn writing into a career? What if I end up broke and living in a weirdly moist ditch?
What if I fail?
This is what runs through my head every time I sit down to write. I am constantly wracked with fear and doubt about my craft, truly writing is terrifying to me.
If I’m so scared of putting words on a page, then why write?
I could list off a whole host of “noble” reasons: Wanting to change the world, connecting with people on a deep emotional level, eventually making enough money to regularly donate to worthy charities, etc.
But those reasons are not what keeps me in my seat when I am afraid. I don’t think about being a good person; to me, writing is an innately selfish act. However, selfish is not necessarily bad.
With that in mind, here are the three actual, day-to-day reasons why I write.
Imagine you have an empty room, with dimensions of about ten feet by ten feet by ten feet. Quiet, right?
Now, put a person in there. That person is a bit chatty, and is talking aloud in the empty room. Still pretty quiet in there, right?
Now imagine that every couple hours, maybe once a day, you stick another chatty person in that room. Soon, that room will be very, very loud, some may even say unbearably noisy. That room is my brain, and the people in it are my ideas.
Every time I write a new story, I can take an idea out of my brain, and put it into a Word document. My brain is a little bit quieter.
Obviously, this is not a perfect metaphor, but it is the closest one to how I think. I am in a constant dialogue with my ideas, but I can’t talk to all of them at once. By writing them down, I am making space for new ideas, without neglecting the old ones.
Writing is a cathartic act.
When I sit down and write, the world around me falls away. All that exists is me, my idea, and my computer. Nothing else matters, I am singularly focused on the task at hand. This is what I imagine falling in love at first sight feels like.
And when I finish writing, put down that final period, and close my computer, I am at peace. If only for a moment, I am calm, heck I would even call it serene.
I even use writing as a sleep aid, because when I am finished I can just pass out. No tossing and turning for hours, I’m just out. The best sleep I can get is after writing.
There are downsides to this. Mainly, if my rabbit is loose in the apartment while I write he can basically do whatever he wants, and I won’t notice. RIP phone chargers, shoes, and that one broom.
I have had many hobbies over the course of my life. Sports, baking, stunt kite flying, wood carving, sewing, the list goes on. The one activity that has stuck with me is writing.
I can remember the first time I really wrote a story, where I went into that trance-mode and felt a release. I was in high school, my freshman year. We were writing stories in an English class, I don’t remember what the assignment was beyond that. I wrote a story about a dog on a farm that saves his owner from a cougar, and I wrote it from the perspective of the dog.
Needless to say, it was not what I would call “good writing.” But, I adored it. I adored writing, I adored taking a small idea and making it into a real story with a plot line and characters.
That love has never faded. Writing is my anchor, an activity I can always go back to and never tire of. It feels like a friend grabbing me by the hand and pulling me along on an adventure; I may not know where we are going, but I can’t wait to find out.
Writing Still Terrifies Me
By choosing to write, I am choosing to bare bits of my soul to the world. I chip off these little chunks of who I am and present it to the world, hoping that the world says, “That’s nice, sweetie.”
I’m still scared of writing, and I will never stop being scared of writing. But as long as my reasons for writing are stronger than my fear, I’m not going to stop.
Writing brings me too much happiness to let terror hold me back.