On Fear of Writing


I’ve heard it many times. Sometimes slipping out of my own mouth, bouncing around the recesses of my brain.

I want to write. I’m scared to write. I will do anything to avoid writing.

I would say that writing is one of my biggest passions. There are few other things that give me such a thrill as thinking up a story, working relatable flaws through the characters, filling the plot holes, finding the exact word for the sentence under your pen (keyboard). I even enjoy proofreading, editing, refining, workshopping. I’m happy for people to read my work – even in its draft stages.

So why does writing scare me so much? Plenty of people who are passionate creatives declare that they would love to write … but never end up getting around to it. Writing is so intimidating because it exposes you in a way that very few other hobbies do.

It’s like delivering up your soul on a platter. Bon appétit! What if people don’t get it? What if they don’t like it?

So we spend our allotted writing time rendering our room spotless, cleaning the fridge out and rearranging our spice cupboard in alphabetical order. Or reading, because consuming someone else’s great work of art is far easier than creating our own.

I have the privilege of writing for work. For some reason that is easier for me. Perhaps it’s because if anyone were to dislike what I’ve published as a staff writer I can say, “They made me do it. They commissioned it.” I can hear the note of desperation in my voice. It’s not me you dislike.

If you’re reading this and think that I am in any way targeting you, I promise I’m not. I have had this conversation so many times over, with so many aspiring writers, and it seems a shame for their talent to be wasted and their thoughts not expressed. Even in writing this (as well as many other posts on my blog) I am exposing myself. But I write not to expose myself. I write to express. I write to help. I write to connect. I write because I have to.

C.S. Lewis said that a good writer didn’t have to provide all the answers. They just had to clearly articulate the question.

You don’t have to have the answer. You just have to pose the question.

Next week I’d like to tackle the topic of overcoming writer’s block. I’m not the most experienced writer in the world but I have a lot of experience with writer’s block and I have also managed to overcome it a fair few times. These will just be some tips from one scared writer to another.



Image: University of York, https://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-taught/courses/pg-dip-creative-writing/, sourced 2 February 2019.

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