Writing Scared

by Laurie Young

Writing scares me. Every part of it. I am afraid the words won’t come. I am afraid that when they do, they won’t be any good. I am afraid that if it is good, I won’t know it and I’ll change it and make it worse. Every time I sit down at the computer I am filled with fear. So why do I do it? (I’ll tell you in a minute…)

I can show up. The BIC (Butt-In-Chair) part is the easiest, (I’m actually quite good at sitting.) It’s the pour-out-your-soul part that terrifies me. I struggle with that. I struggle with wanting it to be so good, that I am afraid to let it be bad. But it should be bad. I mean, it should be allowed to be bad. You know that saying, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”? Whatever the fear is, whatever the emotion, whatever the excuse, (and I’ve got a million of them, if you want to borrow one) I make myself do it anyway. I accept that it’s going to be a messy, ugly slog, and I just do it. But why do I do it? (I’m getting to that…)

I wish I could say that every time I sit down to write it gets easier. But so far it doesn’t.

I go through the fear each day. What does get easier is that every time I make myself embrace the slog, the words start to trust me a little bit more and I start to trust them. Whatever I can offer you in the way of insight, is to make friends with the slog.

The publishing industry is changing every day. In ten years we may have microchips inserted in our brains and will download all information directly, Matrix-style. Who knows? One thing that won’t change is that writers will still want to tell a good story, will still need to organize their thoughts into a cohesive whole and put it down in an accessible format. We will still be doing this a hundred years from now. So get slogging.

There are millions of ideas inside all of us. It takes bravery to write them down so others can know them, too. I don’t want to die with my stories still inside me.* (That’s why I do it.)

*paraphrased from Ralph Waldo Emerson

Laurie L Young has been an Art Director and Graphic Designer for over 16 years, working for various children’s book publishers for the last 7. She has conceived and written 7 books for the preschool novelty market including: I See A Monster, Princess Polly and the Pea, and She is currently slogging through her first middle grade novel.