Home > Life, Writing and Poetry > Whether Right or Wrong—Write

Whether Right or Wrong—Write

Tension abducts the shoulders and arms. Fingers twitch ever so slightly as they rest on the keyboard. Eyes see only a blank desert before them, boding ill for any who traverse that lonely stretch of white.

Why is it that beginning a piece of writing looms, as guillotine over neck, waiting for the blade to drop? How can a simple exercise of putting words to paper or computer exact such a toll? Writers have debated the issue for years, probably centuries, and definitive answers remain elusive.

Having suffered from this debility a time or two—okay, read that as every day—I can only suggest my personal reasons for suffering and the relief measures I take to combat those reasons.

10 Reasons for Avoiding the Keyboard

  1. No one is interested in anything I have to say.
  2. What I have to say has no value.
  3. What’s the point of putting myself out there?
  4. I don’t have the talent that it takes to make it as a writer.
  5. This dream is a waste of time I could be using elsewhere.
  6. I’ll never gain approval from anyone for writing, so why do it?
  7. Getting something published takes too much time.
  8. I have too many other things to do with my time than sit here pretending to be a writer.
  9. So I have a story idea. It will never sell.
  10.  Only my friends ever read my stuff. I’m going out and enjoy the sunshine instead of being cooped up in here writing drivel.

Did any of these sound familiar? I’d bet that you’ve experienced at least five of these in the past three months.

Doubt is a normal human response to anything that exposes us to criticism. After all, no one likes being criticized for anything. Avoidance is the common remedy for dealing with criticism. If a venture is never begun, never made available for others to see, no one has an opportunity to criticize you for anything.

Taking Charge of Self-Doubt and Fear

Children are taught both self-doubt and fear of disapproval when they’re seldom praised for their efforts. Adults who’ve lived without much praise for good performance, good effort, etc. constantly seek out the missing approval. That, too, is a normal human motivation.

This constant seeking of approval can lead down a road to success or continued failure. The signpost for the direction taken, I think, is the one that reads “YOU’RE HERE—FEAR”

If fear is allowed to control you’re actions, it controls your life and your freedom. Whether you become agoraphobic or not doesn’t matter. You’re still hiding inside a locked room—the one you’ve made for yourself and your aspirations.

I created a motto for myself today and shared it with another writer this morning. It is: “If you never begin, you never arrive.”

Will the world end if your story isn’t equal to one belonging to Dickens, Heinlein, King, or Hemingway? If your poem isn’t of the same caliber as Tennyson, Whitman, Browning, or Frost, will people pound on your door, demanding that you cease writing immediately?

Of course not!

My Relief Measures

Over the past three plus years I’ve developed a few relief measures that get me writing whether I believe I’m a “real” writer or not. Try on a few of them. See if they work for you. If not, take a likely candidate and modify it for your own circumstance.

Remember: “Fear is the little mind killer, I shall not FEAR.” (Paraphrased from Paul Atreides of Frank Herbert’s “Dune”)

  1. Think of writing poetry as immersing yourself in a memory. Writing it will capture that memory in a way nothing else can.
  2. Write that children’s story or article for your niece/nephew. They’ll first love it because you wrote it. If they keep asking for it to be read, you’ll know it’s good. (“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” began this way.)
  3. Write back cover blurbs for the story or book that keeps running through your mind, the story that haunts you but you’re terrified is too “out-there.”
  4. Do some brainstorming with a friend who has an active imagination. Keep throwing out ideas until you feel comfortable with a storyline and then transfer your notes to the computer. You’ve just begun your writing process.
  5. Take the time to sit and think about whatever project is waiting for you. Life tends to get frantic at times, forcing the writer to feel as if her particular house of cards is ready to collapse with every breath. Slow down and think for a while. Unless critical deadlines are set regarding the project, you have the time to ponder your approach, your intent, and your criteria. Use it wisely.
  6. Finally, take workshops when available and affordable. Take online courses in that area of writing that you prefer. Many are excellent university courses and they are free. You’ll work your keyboard into the desktop, but it will be worth every moment. You’ll come out of the experience with renewed confidence and drive.

There you have it; doubt and fear, each on a half shell. Neither half shell can work without the other being present. The writer can arm herself with the knowledge and practice to defeat both of these naysayers. Good luck and happy writing.

  1. March 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    This couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you!

    • claudsy
      March 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      Glad you could get some use from it, Laurie. I have to do this for myself at least once a week. I figured I wasn’t alone in it.

      Write well. I’m looking forward to seeing your new work.


  2. March 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Thanks. This is great for me right now as I am in the third month of daily writing and today I am at a loss for where to go with posts.

    • claudsy
      March 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      You’re more than welcome. I’m glad my posts are of use. If you’re stuck, you can always back up and regroup. If you’re using the daily prompt for inspiration, stop for a few moments and pull your personal take on it to the background. Then look at the prompt again as if you were someone else.

      What would your parents feel, expect, etc. if they had to deal with the prompt? What about a friend from school? Would she/he feel or interpret the prompt as you do?

      Sometimes when we imagine others’ reactions to something, we get a clearer image of how we’re interpretting that same thing.

      Just a thought. Good luck.


  3. March 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    ALL such relevant writer advice, Clauds. I really like your #2 and #4 relief measures. #2 is comforting as it is a “writing for the joy of writing feeling to it and #4 is inspiring and connecting, sometimes it’s good to get out of the “box,” otherwise known as “my head!” Thanks so much!

    • claudsy
      March 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm

      You’re more than welcome, Hannah. I always figure that someone out there has done something in particular, learned something helpful, before I get around to reinventing the wheel.If I find something that works for me, someone else could learn from it, or at least get a different perspective on the experience.

      I’m glad to pass along some of my remedies for my own mistakes. I still make so many of them. I live to learn from them.


      • March 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm

        Such a great, positive way to look at it, Clauds! Thanks!

      • claudsy
        March 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

        You’re welcome, Hannah.

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