Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fear or Fun?

What do you feel when you think about jumping into the water to write–a cramp of fear in the pit of your stomach or a release of excitement over the fun that you’ll have the moment you sit down at your desk to begin?

If you’re like me (and like most writers, I suspect), you’ll feel that cramp of fear and try to postpone the moment that you go to your desk until you can’t bear not writing and need to sit down to write.

What’s the source of this fear? And why is it that we tend to feel frightened of the process rather than view it as a chance to have fun and enjoy ourselves?

What causes us to feel this pressure to perform?

And why do we feel like failures when the words won’t come?

What’s wrong with making mistakes, crossing out entire pages, starting from scratch, then starting over again ... and again? (Who do we think is watching us, judging our every move? Who do we think really cares?)

It would be a lot easier for us, I think, if we could side-step the fear (and our own self-critical voices) and remember just how much we enjoy our work, the chance to tell stories, play with words, write poems.

We forget sometimes that the blank page is ripe with possibilities and that all we need to do is dive in and begin swimming to find what's waiting for us beneath the surface.

Instead, we worry about the water temperature and swimming alone and the wind and rough surf, frightening our creative muse away with fears of failure and making errors.

We can forget what brought us to the edge of the water in the first place.

The next time that you feel that cramp of fear in the pit of your stomach, try to remind yourself that it’s okay to enjoy yourself.

Take pleasure in the feel of the pen between your fingers and the sight of ink flowing onto the page.

Delight in the images and emotions evoked by the words that appear beneath your pen.

Play with your story, let it grow and expand, and enjoy dancing in the flow of words, the spray of sentences, the tug of the tide on your heart.

For more information on how to make writing fun, visit:


mima said...

Hi Bruce,

Really enjoyed your workshops at the VCFA novel retreat this past weekend. Your post here speaks to me, particularly at this moment in my writing journey, and I am thankful that much of our work over the weekend gave me a fresh outlook on dealing with my writing fears. Thanks for being part of that fresh outlook:-D

And here's a quote(taken from a book about Viking runes) that seems appropriate to the sentiments of your post: "When in deep water become a diver."


Bruce Black said...

Glad to hear the weekend workshops were helpful (and this post, too). It was a delight to be part of the retreat. Thanks so much for the note ...and for the quotation.