Writing can be scary. It can terrify the writer into complete inaction. It is scary because we are investing so much into it; our time and energy, our hopes, our ego. There is so much that can go wrong, not just with the writing itself, but the countless other things that we sometimes feel are resting on it. Friends and family can be supportive (or not) but sometimes the fear comes rushing in and we are stalled. The odd day here and there is to be expected but sometimes the feeling hangs on. In fact it will not quit. It becomes the little voice of doubt that eats at your soul, nibbling away at you bit by bit. Day by Day. Maybe your latest submission is being rejected left right and centre. Maybe you feel as though time is ticking by and that you will soon run out of that ever-diminishing pool of opportunity. What will x think if they saw this? What if I never write anything any good again? What if I’ve never written anything that’s any good…
However great a man’s natural talent may be, the act of writing cannot be learned all at once. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Luckily, competent writing can be learned. There are any number of books out there to teach you how to write. My favourites? As a general starting point The 38 Most
Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack Bickham, then, once you have your bearings a little bit and can appreciate what he’s saying it has to be Stephen King’s On Writing.
But for combating that dreaded fear it has to be Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. For sheer verve and spontaneity of spirit Bradbury is the best for lassoing that elusive mojo. If you have any interest in writing and you don’t have this slim but vital book I urge you now to make the purchase. Bradbury knew all about the power of the human spirit, the power waiting there for you to tap once you free it with just the right amount of encouragement. Bradbury is the encouragement.
King also has a thing or two to say on the subject of fearfulness in the writer. “You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair – the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come into it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”
So don’t let those demons deter you – fight back! You have the power. Reclaim your fearlessness.
Who do you rate as the best for writer’s advice (maybe King and Bradbury are not your favourites)? How do you avoid that sinking feeling at the keyboard, and what really scares you as a writer? Who inspires you? As always don’t be shy – share!
– Grab the bull by its Horns – colinshingler.wordpress.com