Being a writer has its ups and downs. This has been a down week for me. I’ve written a lot, though not as much as usual, but honestly, some days I just wrote to get it done and move on to something else.
It’s been a tough week all over the world, non-writing related, and I get emotional about this stuff, I really do. I REALLY CARE ABOUT PEOPLE!! I just want to take a second to say that. I am thinking about what has happened and, even if I haven’t written about it (yet), I do care, I am heartbroken and if you are in any way affected personally by the events of the past few days, I am thinking of you constantly.
Being in this kind of emotional state brings up a lot of things I’ve gotten pretty good at suppressing, mainly so I can get my work done and write what I need to write. A lot of it has to do with fear. I used to be afraid to show people what I wrote. I’m way past that now, obviously, but my writing-related fears have over time sort of morphed into insecurities, and to keep myself from stopping, I have to ignore them and write anyway, which is hard! Some days are much harder than others.
I wanted to share my biggest writing-related fears with you all today. Starting off the week on a high note, I guess. But in all seriousness, I want this to be a good thing. Fear stops a lot of us from doing what we want to do, and in being open and honest about what we’re afraid of, I think we can learn to overcome these fears, or at least make peace with them.
So before I invite you to share yours, here are mine.
What if my words don’t actually mean anything?
I write a lot, for both exposure and to refine my own skills. A lot of times I sit back after finishing an article or post and wonder if what I just spent 45 minutes writing even means anything. Am I really helping anyone with this advice? Would it even make a difference if I never hit publish?
I put as much effort as I can into everything I write, I really do, because I write for other people, to help other people any way I can. Sometimes I just don’t know if I’m always accomplishing that goal.
Will writing always just be a volunteer effort?
As I said above, I write a lot, but I don’t get paid for it. That’s not me complaining, either. Most publications that let you publish once a week don’t compensate you for it. They’re doing a favor by helping you get your name out there: exposure is your payment. I get that and I actually really appreciate it. But it just can’t be this way forever.
Many times I’m afraid that one day I’ll have to settle for a career that allows me to support myself and either keep writing as a volunteer side gig or put writing to the side forever. I don’t want to do that. I’m fairly new to this whole adulting thing, you know. I worry too much about a future I can’t see, but it’s one of my biggest fears as a writer, and I know I’m not the only one.
Am I just like every other writer out there?
Nobody wants to be anonymous. That’s why so many people blog and try to write for every publication that will let them. I love to write, I love sharing my words with my readers (greetings to all my newbies!) and as you’ll read in a second, I wouldn’t mind if I never became “successful.”
But I don’t want to fall into the trap of writing about something because everyone else is doing it. I don’t want this blog or my articles or the magazine I manage to be the exact same as everything else that’s already out there. I’m still learning how to be unique. I’m afraid I’m not, or that I never will be. Some days that makes it really hard to get a post up for all of you, but I do it. Every day.
But here’s what I’m not afraid of …
I’m not afraid of promoting my work. It’s out there for those who are interested, but if they’re not, or they don’t like it, that’s out of my control and I’m okay with that.
I’m not afraid of never being successful. I don’t ever expect to be and that’s not why I write. Of course I want my words to matter and I would love to be able to turn writing into a career, but so does everyone else. I’m probably never going to be a “big deal” and that is completely fine with me. I’m just going to keep on writing anyway.
I’m not afraid of being rejected. I’ve been given a “no” enough times to finally have come to terms with it just being a part of life no matter what you’re trying to do. It’s nothing personal. I’m not going to be a good fit for every job or every publisher or even every audience. No one is. The more I learn to brush it off and keep trying, the better off I am in all areas of my life, not just in my writing.
None of these fears have anything to do with me personally. I love what I do regardless of whether anyone reads it or likes it or shares it, I’m not in any of this for any of that. I’m just a small-town writer living in a big word-filled world and it’s terrifying and amazing all at the same time.
What do you fear? How do you keep writing, even when these fears try and stand in the way of making progress on your latest project? Are we just imagining these fears? Do they exist to motivate us to keep writing anyway?
Keep writing. Make this week count.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.