A VERY IMPORTANT AND *ahem* OFFICIAL report recently found that often, people will do JUST ABOUT ANYTHING rather than write.
In the report, the following ten things were found to be the favoured forms of procrastination keeping people from putting pen to paper:
- Spring-cleaning the house
- Walking the dog – even if you don’t have a dog
- Checking the garden for weeds
- Checking next door’s garden for weeds
- Polishing the skirting boards
- Clearing out that cupboard
- Taking the contents of that cupboard to the dump
- Staring into space
- Staring into space whilst wondering what comes after infinity
- Making a cup of tea when you still have one steaming away on your desk
This is one of the great conundrums known to writing-kind (almost as great a conundrum as what comes after infinity).
Even when we want to write we become masters at blocking ourselves. But why?
The answer, sweet Dare to Dreamers, is FEAR.
Fear of looking stupid.
Fear of criticism or rejection.
Fear of making ourselves open and vulnerable.
And maybe even fear of success.
But the fact is, writing is one of the best ways of making sense of the world.
It’s like breathing for the brain as you exhale your thoughts and feelings on to the page.
And it’s one of the most powerful forms of self-expression we have.
We all have the right to write.
Rich or poor.
Young or old.
Educated or uneducated.
So how can we overcome our fears?
You might be familiar with the following quote about how to live a happy life:
‘You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watching. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening and live like it’s heaven on earth.’
Well, I’d like to tweak that quote slightly for the purposes of this piece:
‘You’ve got to write like nobody’s reading. Write like you’ve never been hurt. Write like nobody gives a damn and write like the last writer on earth.’
You. Have. The. Right. To. Write.
It’s your voice.
So what if you can’t spell and you think a colon is something people with more money than sense irrigate? It’s your voice that counts – your vision and message.
So what if people criticise or reject what you do? At least you had the guts to do it.
So what if it feels as if you’re bleeding your heart all over the page? How can anything heartfelt and authentic ever be ‘wrong’?
And so what if someone actually likes what you do – and likes it enough to publish it? So what if this leaves you wide open to potential criticism and hurt on a huge scale?
Your words will have taken on a life of their own. Let them fly free and know that it’s impossible to please everybody.
There was a time when I felt too terrified to write.
A time when my skirting boards were so clean you could eat your dinner off them and none of the gardens in my street were troubled by a single weed.
But my need to make sense of the world and pour my heart and soul on to the page won out in the end.
And as soon as I started writing, some of my worst fears were realised.
I had work rejected and criticised.
I wrote things I felt embarrassed about (article about lucky underpants, anyone?!)
But I kept going.
Every day, I faced down my fear and put pen to page.
And today I made the finishing touches to my thirteenth book.
So, if you feel the call to write, shove your fear to one side and…
Write like nobody’s reading. Write like you’ve never been hurt. Write like nobody gives a damn and write like the last writer on earth.
This post was taken from my book, Dare to Dream: Inspirational Musings on Life, Love & Creativity. Available here. All proceeds go to the charity Leuka, helping find a cure for leukaemia.
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