The Fear of Writing

I’ve been trying to focus on some of the things that hold me back from writing, and while the most obvious two are: I work too much, and: I don’t have the MFA program to push me anymore, those are merely crutches. I need to expand past that if I want to make it as a capital W Writer.

The good news: I feel more comfortable as a writer now. The MFA is the best decision I’ve ever made. I have a lasting writing group past the program, have met some of my favorite people, felt confident enough to send out (and subsequently) publish my fiction. I know I couldn’t have done it on my own, with simply my BA (believe me, I tried). But there’s still the fear I won’t write. This won’t amount to anything. I’ve been away at a writing retreat all week, and the quiet and the time have been able to help me refocus and figure out how to maintain a writing life.

Problem: I fear I’m not good enough to make it. That I’m not focused enough. That my genius, funny, quirky story idea won’t translate well when I sit and write. That what I write isn’t making me happy and proud and representative of who I want to be as a writer.

Solution: well, READ what I want to write. The stories I wish I’d written. What makes me obsess over them? Underline lines. Take notes. Adopt ideas. Use writing prompts. Even if it’s just practice, practice in that style. Get comfortable in it. Then my own work will follow naturally.

I tend to think sometimes that freewriting/exercises/etc are nonproductive and don’t overall add up to anything, because my time is so limited, so I need to be spending all of it on the writing that I intend to publish. But what happens is: it takes so much focus/energy/time, that I don’t write. Anything. I remember even this time last year and the year before, I was working and writing and discovering my voice  and finding new favorite stories. And all that discovery needs to lead somewhere. To establishing myself as a writer who still participates. Yes, it will take effort. Yes, I will have to actively try. But the rewards are worth it.


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