Fear of Writing (Day 20)

When I think about my schooldays, I always call to mind that recurrent sense of dread that would creep up on me every Sunday night throughout the school year. I remember as if it were just yesterday that awful feeling of foreboding that would follow me from mid-afternoon Sunday until bedtime.

Clearly, I felt trepidation about going to school.

Curiously, the feelings never came on a Monday or Tuesday night, or any other night for that fact; it was only as I was on the verge of starting a new week did I feel it.

Even more queer is the fact that I absolutely loved going to school. I adored my teachers. I was a straight-A student. I genuinely enjoyed learning.

The feelings went away as I entered college with its new freedoms and irregular schedules. One might even argue that with an increased maturity, I was able to overcome such irrational fears.

Yet, lately I have noticed a funny trend in my own writing behaviour. Writing that very first word of the day is for me akin to pulling teeth. I notice myself trying to overcome that very familiar sense of dread with all kinds of activities and distractions. Sometimes, I have to admit, I can waste an entire day in such diversions that when the clock strikes midnight I simply shrug my shoulders and think, “hmmn, I guess I got no writing done today.”

On the days that I do, by some herculean effort of the will, manage to turn on my Word document and start writing, then—oh, what joy it is to write! I find myself literally enthralled by the story unfolding before my eyes. Once I get beyond that initial dread, I find myself engrossed in meaningful, fun work.

Fear, no matter how irrational, has this clever way of hijacking our thinking, for indeed, all thinking is dependent on one’s emotional state. When we allow ourselves to become fearful—as did I as a child every Sunday night, and as I still do whenever it is time for me to write—when we succumb to these fears, we let our thought process be guided by avoidance and impulses. We avoid our work by welcoming all sorts of distractions and/or we begin to act impulsively (i.e. engaging in a variety of objectively ridiculous but somehow comforting behaviours such as: binge eating-drinking-wasting time on Facebook, etc.). Since this fear is universal, giving in to such fears puts us at the same level as most of the population; but if we are to succeed as artists, we have to rise above these debilitating and useless fears.

This realization–this fruit of my daily introspection–won’t be a panacea for my fear, I know, but at least I will be more prepared the next time I catch myself avoiding my writing. I know that all I have to really do is put my laptop in my bag and run as fast as possible to the library where, once settled in, I will be able to indulge in my writing, fearlessly and happily.