This month I’m writing a series on writers’ fears and how to move beyond them. When I am coaching a client about their fears, I respond very differently than what I am writing here. In a one-one situation, I am able to ask questions that reveal the underlying truth for my client. From there she is able to take actions that are appropriate for her situation.
In this series, I am offering advice. You can take what applies to your situation, or leave it. Or use these solutions to approach and tame your fears. Do you harbor these fear beasts:
Is what I have to say is unique? It has all already been written. This is a very common fear, and with the glut of information in the world, it does seem to have some basis in fact. What can you add to the already full world?
Solution: A lot. This is where you, as a writer, are challenged to seek and express your unique voice. If you are writing on a common topic, look for how you can say it in a different way. Exploring your unique voice is an ongoing process. Here is an exercise to help. Start by looking at a few of your favorite writers. In your notebook, write the following:
Then fill in the blanks with information about your favorite authors. For example:
- Anne Lamott
- Fiction/Personal Essay
- Children, writing, life, spirituality
- Her voice is honest, sharp, revealing, funny and inspirational.
Do this for a few authors so you get the feel of how you can identify voice. Then do this for yourself. Read some of your writing aloud and hear the patterns and tone of your writing voice. Get a sense of your unique qualities as a writer. You may wish to free write on this topic. And, to keep the faith, remember that you were given the gift of words and the inclination to write for a reason. You may not know the reason, but your job is to write anyway.
Do you fear being exposed and revealing yourself? This is such a big deal because writing asks us to put ourselves on the line. When you write something down, it is more permanent, more out in the world, and open for interpretation. Often as a writer you can feel like a target.
Solution: You already are a target. You as a human being, are a magnet for all the good, bad and blissful that is out there. When I am coaching my clients to something big, they often imagine the worst case scenario. I invite them to imagine the best case scenario. So, rather than think, “No one will like my writing and thus no one will like me,” think, what if they loved my writing?
The underlying issue beneath this fear may be that we fundamentally want approval. If our writing is good, we are good. If a piece we wrote wins a contest, we are validated. Of course this is a natural human reaction. I challenge you to untie the threads that bind your self-esteem with your writing. This will be an ongoing process. But know that your work may be good and that does not mean you are good, and your work may be bad but that does not mean you are bad. Practice non-attachment.
Those two fears and their solutions should give you enough to chew on for the week. Enjoy releasing your fears and making room for writing. See you next Monday with more solutions for your writing fears.