Why don’t you write? You want to. You need to. So why don’t you? Fear, plain and simple, and it’s okay! It’s totally understandable. From the time we were infants, we looked to others for approval. You might even say that was a survival mechanism. Even the noncomformists among us need some sense of belonging, some sense of approval from those who are important to them. Without others, we die.
Think of how many people spend their entire lives trying to prove their parents wrong, to succeed and achieve and finally be “good enough” to gain mommy’s or daddy’s approval. People often leave relationships because “they didn’t accept me for who I am.” The need is deep, the need is HUGE.
Afraid to write
So when I say “you’re afraid to write” don’t think that’s saying you’re weak or cowardly. It simply means that you’re human and you need things every human needs. The fear that we’ll pour out our hearts on paper, only to find that we offer up the best we have to give, and it is rejected, or ridiculed, well, that could destroy us. That fear alone is enough to paralyze us, to stop us in our tracks, and to cause us to tell ourselves and others anything we need to in order to be able to avoid having to write it.
I have a confession to make here, just in case you think I’m not right there with you, because I am. I have been putting off writing a book for about 20 years now. Oh, I’ve written a lot of other things, but not that book. For at least that long, people have been telling me, “You have been through so much hell, you need to write a book about it.” Yeah. I do. There’s just one little problem…which is actually a BIG problem.
Talking about abuse
My family, whose approval I could never gain no matter how much I achieved and pushed myself and ran myself into the ground trying to please, trying to be good enough to be loved, finally…they don’t want me to write that book, because it will show the world what they did to me. They’ve even threatened to sue me if I ever write it.
Then, there’s the whole “Misery Lit” thing. If I had written my book 20 years ago, it might have been well-received, but now that the market is full of books about things like abuse, incest, and horrible childhoods, would it be received the same way, or would it be seen as “just another sob story” or a “poor me” kind of thing?
I wonder about that even though the message is not that at all, but one of overcoming against all odds, one of forgiving the worst atrocities and healing—not the relationship, because they have no desire for that because it would involve admitting they did things that were unspeakable and they refuse to admit any wrongdoing at all—but my own healing, and of breaking the generational chains for the sake of my children and my children’s children.
Fear of rejection
So I have a fear that not just my family, but the world at large will disapprove. That my family will disapprove of anything I do, especially that book, is a given. I know it as well as I know that Schrodinger is dead.
Do I let that fear, that certainty, stop me? Not anymore. I’m not only writing one book about it, but Lord willing, I will write a whole slew of them, probably with multiple legal protections in place just in case my family follows through on their threat to (try to) sue me. Abusers can’t win suits against their victims for speaking out, by the way, but some people don’t know that. (Disclaimer: I’m not a legal professional; consult yours before undertaking something that might put you at risk). Okay, so I don’t have any reason to fear (or hope for) my family’s disapproval. What about the rest of the world? That’s still there.
Do I think about it? Sure. Do I have a “why” that’s bigger than that fear is? Yes. I have the support from a chosen few, and I know that there are enough people out there who are still hurting, many of whom are repeating the cycle of abuse, passing on the chains of it to the next generation. My need, nay, drive and my calling to do what I can to put a stop to it is bigger than my fear that people will think I’m just on the pity-party wagon. Anyone who reads my work would know that I’m not. There is hope. There are even miracles, and I’ve been blessed to have more than my share of those. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
What do you need, in order to be able to write? You need a sense of security, belonging and acceptance, and the knowledge that even if people don’t like what you write, you will survive. It’s not going to devastate you. It might even help you to rework it and present an improved product.
Sharing your writing
You might need to start small, or to share your writing with only a few, very trusted people. That’s what I did with the writing I did in high school and college, with the exception of a couple of pieces I had published then.
If you’ve read anything I wrote during that time and did not publish, you are in the inner circle forever. I trusted it with very few people. I still don’t allow people to read things from that file folder, but I might push past that fear and share it here with you. After all, how can I expect you to do something scary if I won’t face my own Writing Dragon? I mean, sure, I’ve already faced and tamed Writing Dragons. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t. But we all still have a Dragon or two in a cave somewhere, don’t we? And that’s one of mine: “Share poetry from the Dark Ages with my readers.”
What if you don’t like it? What if someone actually says they don’t like it? Will it hurt me like Dragon claws across my heart? It might. It’s not on the same level as an informative article I might write—those aren’t personal. The other, that’s the deepest, darkest, secret stuff, and to meet with disapproval about it, yeah, that might hurt. It might hurt a lot. But it also won’t kill me or make my experience any less valid. What if you think it’s something a kid would write? Well, it is something a kid wrote. So we can get that one out of the way.
I say all this to say that I totally understand your fears, and they are 100% normal. Accepting them might help you. Facing them, and moving just a bit at a time (or jumping in with both feet, if that’s your syle), that definitely will help you. I am here for you as you go. Feel free to leave comments, or to email me privately if you’d like. I am here to help you tame your Writing Dragons, and believe me, we all have some.