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Facing the Void

Based on a prompt

By Rene PetersPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
Nightcafe creation

"Writing is not, alas, like riding a bicycle: it does not get easier with practice. Every time I took out a yellow legal-size pad and fountain pen, and now when I turn on the computer and stare at the blank screen, I'm petrified again: this time, nothing will happen, or something so ruinous as to defy repair..."

-Nancy Mairs, Voice Lessons: On Becoming a (Woman) Writer

I always feel so alone in struggling to know what to write, no matter how badly I want to put a pencil to paper or my fingers on a keyboard. I always feel trapped in writer's block. It takes so much effort and help from others but I truly love writing. There are so few things I enjoy but writing has been one of them since I learned I could do it for fun when I was 16, in 11th grade, and discovered my love of poetry.

Saying that writing doesn't get easier with practice (like riding a bicycle) is exactly how it feels to me. I know it gets easier for many people but even after nearly seven years of writing and trying to push myself, it still feels hard. It's difficult for me to expand my horizons beyond poetry like I desperately want to. I want, actually need, to improve writing in new (to me) genres.

As for the second part, that resonates deeply with me too. I do get scared looking at the blank screen anytime I want to write for Vocal.

"What if it isn't good?"

"What if I embarrass myself by writing anything?"

"What if I sound like an idiot?"

Those types of questions (the "what-ifs," as any therapist would say) tend to linger in my mind, especially when I am actively trying to write. I have been trying so hard to just say, "Screw you," to the what-ifs when they are really strong. It has been hard but with help from friends, I think I am getting at least slightly better at it (most of the time). Having generalized anxiety disorder makes this harder than it would have been without it though.

My constant fear of not being "good enough" makes anything hard to do. I always find ways in which I did "bad" but never think, "I like how this turned out." It is so emotionally painful to never feel good about anything that I do. I want to have some feeling of pride, confidence, or something (anything) positive about my accomplishments, for lack of a better word.

The immense anxiety I often experience when I try to write often stops me from putting anything on paper (or the computer). Even when I am journaling and no one will see it (because it usually gets burned when I'm done), I have a major concern about it sounding idiotic. Somehow, almost nine years of therapy hasn't done a great job of changing that fear. I try to thought-challenge but it is nearly impossible for me to not believe the intrusive thoughts. They usually feel more accurate than they really are. I know they are wrong but they seem right, with them having "reasons" as to why they're the truth.

* * *

This is based on a prompt from "Writer's Bootcamp 2," where I got the entire quote at the top. The questions after the quote are, "What do you think? Do you experience this kind of terror too?" I came across this prompt and knew it would be perfect for me, given my struggles with writing, especially recently.

Of course, this resource idea was a suggestion from Mother Combs but it is greatly appreciated. I think the challenges for myself will be helpful in consistency. Maybe it will help the quality too?

* * *

I wonder if the quote is wrong and if it is possible to get better with practice. One can hope that's the case.

Writing ExercisePrompts

About the Creator

Rene Peters

I write what I know, usually in the form of poetry. I tend to lean towards mental health, epilepsy, and loss/grieving.

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Comments (3)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran3 months ago

    I totally understand your anxiety and your fear of embarrassing yourself. But that's the thing. You said this, "I do get scared looking at the blank screen anytime I want to write for Vocal." My question is, do you want to write for Vocal because you already have an idea in mind or do you want to write for Vocal because you wanna publish something?

  • Novel Allen3 months ago

    My first writings were not good, but I kept going. I got better by doing research, reading from writers that i liked, also everything else from everyone, trusting my own guts and doing me. We all doubt our work, but we do it anyway. Welcome to the doubter's club. Just do it.

  • Mother Combs3 months ago

    I think you can. Especially with the support of your friends here. ❤️

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