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Why Writers Can't Write

by Joanna Lynne 2 days ago in advice

The Fear

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Anyone who calls themselves a writer, aspiring or hardened professional, knows that writing is often one of the worst things we can think of to occupy our time.

What? Writers hate to write? 90% of the time, yes.

As a writer, I have dreaded going to the computer, my notebook, to face the project that haunts my thoughts, the words that don't seem to want to escape me.

Every writer is deeply familiar with the definition of the word procrastination. The action of delaying or postponing something or some event from occurring.

I am young, I've got nothing to lose, and everything to gain. But I put off, I move around, I delay, delay, delay. I thought I was crazy, I thought no real writer does this. Stephen King writes a 1000 words a day, whether they turn into something good or not. Ernest Hemingway wrote every morning, quoting that when he stops he has to get through the day until the morning comes so he can write again to empty the turmoil inside him. If that's what real writers do, then I'm not a real writer. I often can't find it within myself to write like that, all the time. But I want to.

I thought the tortured writer thing was an exaggeration, a stage trope to have a laugh at the melodramatic poets of society.

Turns out, I was wrong.

Unfortunately, it is a trope for a reason, only when I started investing myself, my whole being into it, did the torture begin.

I can't write. Because I want it so badly, that I'm petrified to start.

Well to start, and to keep starting. Over and over.

Writers know our best work often displays the deepest -and what we consider to be - the worst parts of ourselves. And the cherry on top of the anxiety-inducing cake?

Writers are intrinsically narcissistic. We want everyone to like us. Maybe you say you don't, maybe not when you're at a party or work or school. But in your writing, you are vulnerable, and rejection of what feels like your soul, your baby, is devastating, to say the least. And if you aren't devasted by the rejection, you didn't put enough of yourself into it.

This is the thing about writing nobody told me before I started. It's exhilarating, in the worst ways. You put yourself into it, and into it more. Pour everything you've got into your words, the worst parts of yourself, and most of the time, it isn't good enough.

This is the reason, though, why it is one of the most thrilling careers that exists. It holds incredible power in keeping you alive, during and after life. But it is also so terrifying a feat to complete I find myself unable to type a word most days.

I am terrified, but writing is also the only thing that makes me feel this way. I equate it to cross country running. Any runner will tell you they hate it, it's painful, often less glory than in the sprints, you ache all the time. But when you are doing it, running, writing, there isn't anything else. Calm, one foot in front of the other, word after word. It hurts, it sucks even, but I can't do anything else.

So if any other writers are out there who are afraid, petrified to write, we get it. And though I'm sure you've heard it a million times, all you can do to conquer the fear is to write. And in truth, that fear, that is the thrill that comes with writing. It's the reason why we still put fingers to keyboard.

Here's to being afraid to write, and hoping that fear never stops.


Joanna Lynne

Just Writing.

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