I have a problem with writing. Mostly, with my feelings towards it. I’ve found I love writing, it’s a challenge, it’s creative, it allows me to turn intangible thoughts and ideas into a form that is not only tangible but shareable and understandable by others; that’s magic. My problem comes from a uncontrollable and frustrating fear associated with it. This fear doesn’t often come on at the start of a project, when an idea hits me and I’m all jazzed about getting it down; it comes later, after that early passion, when the real work starts.
Let me try and explain it. I’ll be a certain percentage into a project, let’s say twenty percent, and mostly I’ve happy with what I’ve written so far and I’m enjoying writing it, when something shifts, and all of a sudden when I think about writing more of the project or I’m sitting at my laptop and have yet to begin, there’s a weird fear in my chest. A pressure.
Annoyingly it’s because I am happy with what I’ve written so far that this pressure exists, because I know exactly what the cause of that pressure is, and it’s me. The fear is one of failure. The failure to write the story as well as I know I can, or believe myself to be able to. It’s a weird combination of arrogance and self doubt. On one hand I have this arrogant belief that I have the talent to write this amazing story, that at my best I’m capable of blowing audiences away with my words, on the other I don’t believe I can live up to and achieve this level of talent that I have put on myself! I’m sure psychologists probably have a term for it, ego fighting your super-ego, or something like that, all I know is it’s confusing.
The worst part about this fear is that sometimes it’s powerful enough to stop me from writing. I distract myself with other things, or start a new project (which is really just a different form of procrastination), or write one of these blogs (as clearly that pressure doesn’t extend to smashing my thoughts down into a post), or just do nothing; all the while a small voice at the back of my head is saying just get over it and finish the project. If I’m lucky I’ll listen to that little voice, who will also remind me, in a calm and friendly tone, that ‘Writing is meant to be fun, so just have fun. Nobody is expecting a masterpiece from you, or really anything from you, so why be afraid?’ Unfortunately there’s also that other voice that speaks with a mean and gravelly tone and says ‘Nobody else may be expecting anything from you, but I am, so be better!’
Clearly I don’t have an answer to this problem, or to those voices, that’s why I wanted to write it down here, and I expect the problem will continue indefinitely, as putting pressure on myself is part of who I am. I also think it’s part of the reason why I can achieve some of the things I do; there’s always pros and cons. I’ll just have to manage it. Coffee helps. I think I’ve created a pavlovian conditioning in myself where now even the smell of coffee puts me in the mind to write. Maybe I’ll just drink more coffee.
To share something more positive than my self doubts I thought I’ll show you this great little video that popped up in my news feed the other day from Futurism about a very cool and, unsurprisingly, futuristic device that allows you to type on any surface, with just your hand, and have it work as a keyboard.
Isn’t the future cool?
Two steps forward and one step back means you’re still moving forward.