#IWSG: The Courage to Write

Posted July 3, 2012 in Creative Writing / 11 Comments

Today it’s time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group, organised by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers to express their own doubts and concerns and to offer assistance and encouragement to others. We post on the first Wednesday of every month and welcome anyone who wants to join in. 

Today my topic is courage, and I’d like to ask for your help and advice. You have to be brave to be a writer, without a doubt. You’re essentially bearing your soul on paper-translating your thoughts, emotions, ideas and values into words that others may one day read and analyse. I still find it hard to share my writing with my friends and family, let alone blog readers, critics, editors and publishers.

But right now sharing my work is the least of my worries. My main problem is that at the moment I can’t get myself to write anything. Not a sausage. I have stories and ideas bubbling inside me all the time, but lately I am too scared to even start writing them down. Why? What am I so afraid of? I think I’m just scared of failure. I don’t want to write because I don’t want to face how out of practice I am with my creative writing. I’m scared that I’ll realise just how average and talentless I really am.
But obviously, this is not doing anything to help me. You don’t get a book written just by dreaming about it and you can’t improve yoru writing skills if you don’t even try. Authors have to work hard on their novels everyday to see results. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write.

That’s why this book is on my birthday wishlist:

I’m hoping it will inspire me and give me a bit of a confidence boost, and I’ll be sure to share any helpful advice that I pick up from it in a future IWSG. I know that I just have to get on with it and I so badly want to, but I don’t know how to start. I feel like I’ve lost confidence in my writing abilities lately. How I can get my mojo back, get over the first hurdle and start writing? I’d appreciate any advice you guys can offer!

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11 responses to “#IWSG: The Courage to Write

  1. My advice is to just sit down and start writing no matter how afraid you feel. Just keep writing, don't worry about grammar, flow, or anything at that point – just write. You can always go back and make changes later. That's what I do when doubt begins to set in, trying to paralyze me. Pretty soon after I start pushing through with my writing things start to flow and I feel at ease again in my writing.

    I took the advice of a fellow writer who said that your writing will never improve unless you write. It's just like painting or any other kind of craft, you have to practice, practice, practice in order to improve.

    Fear not! Just write. 🙂

  2. Sometimes you have to recognize that you need a break from writing and let yourself off the hook for a bit. Sometimes it really is time to get back to it, though.

    When I get like this, it's usually because there's something specific that is paralyzing me. For instance, I had trouble writing for a couple weeks last month, and it was (mostly) because I had set an impossible deadline for myself, and was too freaked out to even try to reach it. So I moved my deadline farther along and now I'm doing much better.

    After that, one exercise that helped me get back into the swing of things was what I guess you could call "the two-sentence rule." When you sit down to write, make yourself write two sentences. JUST WRITE TWO. More often than not, I find myself eager to continue on after that short taste.

    Good luck! <3 And if all else fails, here's a bit of advice from someone wiser than I am:

    "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt." ~William Shakespeare

  3. I've got that book, THE COURAGE TO WRITE. It's full of wonderful advice. I've quoted it many times.

    I think, for me, I've learned it's okay for my writing to be a little rough around the edges. Failure is an option, but that's how we learn what does work in the end, and the next time we'll do it better.

  4. When I get stuck, I've found that writing just a little every day helps – not too much pressure. If staring at a blank Word document is too much, then do it on paper. If your desk is paralyzing you, then go to coffee shop. If an hour seems like too much, then write for ten minutes. Just do it. Your post here is great – you definitely can string words together.

  5. I really like the Shakespeare quote by Susan. Doubt is often always there but we get used to them (those traitorous voices of doubt) and learn to rise above them.

    Improvisation, like writing whatever is on your mind can help. It overrides those voices and before you know it, you are back in the groove. When I am paralysed, I see it as time to do something I don't normally do and just focus on the activity wholeheartedly. I then find myself experiencing something meaningful and can't help but write.

    The feelings about writing are normal. You will overcome them. Good luck with it. Cheers.

  6. Hi, I'm stopping by from the IWSG hop – nice to meet you.

    You should never feel scared to write – throw everything you have at the page, even the most ridiculous stuff. From those early drafts will come something to be proud of that you won't be scared to show to other people. Write as though you are the only person who's ever going to see it, and you'll feel happier!

  7. When I'm not writing anything and really think I should be, I usually just try getting out a single, random scene. It's not always something I turn into a novel (in fact, my scenes rarely grow beyond the original) and it may not have any relevance to what I've written before, but it's something. And it helps me get back into the flow.

    Good luck finding your courage!

  8. Writing anything helps, even if it's just a blog post. I went six months without writing and wondered if I'd ever get back into it – and yes, I finally did!

  9. I'm with Alex. Don't plan on writing anything big…or important. Just write. Get the words flowing and remember how much you enjoy the process. Baby steps are all it takes!

  10. If you're out of practice, you can start with some flash fiction or short stories. Join prompt contests and let your imagination fly free. Wishing you get over your block soon. 🙂

  11. I totally know what you're talking about. I went through a phase like this. I'm so glad it's over. My only suggestion that helped me was focusing on the bubble ideas and using those to write scenes only! From there build scene to scene. See what happens.

    BTW: Nicetomeecha!

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