Writing is scary
Ghostwriting, if you haven’t heard of it, is the work of writing stories, articles, blogs or other text that is officially credited to another person. I do a lot of it and have a growing case of byline envy. That said, I am quite happy to stay behind the scenes.
In my work, the focus is moving more and more to writing and storytelling. Which I LOVE to do and have been doing – I believe well – for a long time.
But still with the delivery of every story idea for a client, I feel fear. With every article pitch, I feel fear. With every finished, thoroughly researched, reviewed and revised article that has been subsequently accepted and lauded by a publication, I still feel fear.
I know. WTH?
If I feel this way, I can only imagine how many of my clients and colleagues – who don’t do this for a living – feel when they have to write about their businesses or other passions.
Writing is scary. There. I said it again. It takes courage. If you actually look up the Old English definition for courage you’ll find – corage, from Latin cor ‘heart.’ The New American Oxford Dictionary defines it as the ability to do something that frightens one.
My definition of purposeful writing: Doing something courageous from the heart despite the fear.
But why, even after we’ve spent years sharpening our ability to write successful stories, is there still those moments when our courage fails us?
Here are some of the fears we writers face on a daily basis:
We write to connect with an audience. This is scary in itself. Who are we to think anyone cares about what we have to say, or that we are worthy of that connection? But still we write because this is what gives meaning and purpose to our lives.
We write to achieve measurable results. What if we don’t measure up?
We write with our hearts as well as our well-informed brains. And that can hurt, when nobody cares.
We write to be right. We do the research and even after we’ve checked and rechecked our facts, we know there could be a new finding or maybe worse, a new opinion that might be more popular (regardless if it’s right or wrong).
We write and then we have to let our writing go. If you put your heart into a writing project, it’s hard to take criticism and in some cases let earlier drafts and viewpoints go.
We write and write and it doesn’t always pay. Your greatest idea for a story may not get any interest from those who will pay. If the story’s itching to get out of your head, you just might have to give it away – but do so knowing your reasons why. Hopefully payment comes in non-monetary ways.
How do we face these fears? The solution I put forward is to just accept that every act of writing is a leap of faith. We need to do our best work and, if we expect to make a living doing it, be sure that what we write is of value to someone – and not just ourselves. We need to embrace that our fears are what make us good writers. Because we care, because we’re prepared to be vulnerable, to expose all of our emotions on a topic – and then put those emotions away as we bring reason and perspective to our stories.
I said this before and I’ll say it again. When we write for a broader audience, it’s about finding a role for our stories (and our clients’ stories) in other people’s lives. And then taking them from the story they are in to the story where they want to be.
Please share your comments about the fear of writing. If you’re really afraid and would like to talk to me about writing your story send me an email. I promise it won’t be scary.