“We are so scared of being judged that we look for every excuse to procrastinate.” -Erica Jong
One of the greatest ironies is the writer who doesn't write. The person who reads books like one devouring cupcakes after a ten-day juice fast. The person, who is passionate about prose, recites lines of poetry, memorizes quotes from the classics and loves to tell a good story. The person who declares "writer" as a profession yet often fails to write.
Why does a person proclaiming to be a writer not write? Conjecture could lead us to many possibilities such as time constraints, inadequate environment, insufficient support and/or unsatisfactory ideas. And although these may be contributing factors they are not the reason that a writer doesn't write. After all, if one is truly a writer then one can overcome most obstacles blocking her ability to fulfill her passion. Instead the reason is much more innate and insidious. The reason is fear.
How many times have you written a sentence only to immediately delete it? How many paragraphs and pages of writing did you like just before submitting them to the trash? How many thoughts of your own inadequacy do you push to the back of your mind? How many moments have you questioned your own talent? Now the question becomes why? Why do you scrutinize yourself and your writing to the point that you don't write? The answer is fear.
Of what are writers so afraid? Rejection. Silence. Failure. A blank page is intimidating but far more frightening is the prospect that the way in which you fill it will be met with criticism, negativity or even worse, nothing. The fear can be so pervasive and all encompassing that it becomes paralyzing, leaving the writer to do anything but write.
Now the most important question is how does a writer overcome the fear? Want another irony? They write. Fear is a manifestation of our doubts and uncertainties. To overcome this fear, you must force yourself to push through all your insecurities. You must silence the negative self-talk and thoughts and instead listen to your "voice" the one that allows you to write the stories you know you can and should write. You write in spite of your fear. And sometimes you write because of it in an effort to prove that it can't stop you. Fear should never be the basis of why you don't do what you love.
The only way to overcome fear is to face it and by facing it you become free. Free to keep your sentence, free to retrieve your pages from the trash, free to believe in yourself and free to write.
Remember as the brilliantly funny and accurate Nora Robert's said, “You can fix anything but a blank page." You can proof, edit, rewrite, write a second, third or fourth book but only if you write. And once you do, you will be able to face the criticism and even the rejection to find an audience who appreciates your stories, your style and your voice. So now, I ask again, who's afraid of the big bad novel?
Causes Sherry Parnell Supports
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International