I have been writing and teaching writing for a long time. The one thing I know about becoming a successful writer is that it takes more, much more than putting words on paper. Much of the most powerful writing is the result of a positive attitude about creativity, curiosity about what writing has to teach us, and a willingness to go where the story leads creating the map as you go. Writing is action, but it is also consciousness. So, when I decided to write a book about writing I knew I had to include a discussion of the many mixed and mired emotions the prospect and the act of writing bring forth.
In my new ebook First Page to Finished on Writing and Living the Writer’s Life, you will read honest advice about many topics writers often ignore, because they induce anxiety or because we simply don’t know how to talk about them. In chapters titled You Have Time to Write, Fear is What You Feel, The Truth About Money, I talk honestly about how to create the life that will support your writing goals, how to realize that in the creative process fear is not an enemy but a companion you can learn from and that there is enough “success” and recognition to go around. Stay the course and you will get your share.
From the chapter Fear is What You Feel:
“So, what is it you’re afraid of? Well…. There’s the fear that you won’t write as well as the authors you admire. Fear of ridicule. Fear of the reaction of family and friends. Fear that you can’t handle success. Fear that you can’t handle failure. Fear that you’ll be blinded by the luminosity, the breadth and depth of your talent. Fear of standing up for something because you’ve seen people who stand up get knocked down. You, like so many of us, have forgotten that
“we fall down but we get up.”
Winston Churchill said that success is going through failure after failure without losing your enthusiasm. It’s the enthusiasm, often difficult to feel and hold onto that ultimately results in success. Similarly, good writing is essentially draft after draft of fair to middling writing that you “work” until it undeniably speaks to the reader with an unforgettable voice.
Fear can be redefined as an adrenalin rush, a propellant, an ingredient that sets your creativity on fire rather than dousing it. Fear doesn’t have to paralyze you unless you’re comfortable with it as a cocoon you hide in so you can keep your story to yourself. Your fear cheats the world of another piece of the puzzle that creates the picture of our shared human experience.
I’ve always known that my desire to be a writer was a gift. Now I know that writing for me is my assignment from God. And who I am to talk back to God? Whether you’re a spiritual/religious believer, skeptic, or atheist, it’s clear that the urge to create is generated by a source we can’t fully know, absolutely define, but only submit to. Therefore, the mystery. Therefore, the wonder. Therefore, the reasons we can’t let go of the urge to write.
I conquer fear one word at a time. For me, writing isn’t a battle to be won. It’s more like a body of water that’s alternately murky and crystal clear. It frightens me with rip tides and blustering waves, lulls me on its surface when it is calm, makes music with its rhythmic waltz onto the shore. It cleanses and hypnotizes me. I listen to and dive into it. Some days I swim, others I just float. But I always show up at the beach, and I love the feel of sand between my toes.
Bright Idea: “We must reject not only the stereotypes that others have of us but also those we have of ourselves.”Shirley Chisolm
If you’re looking for your most important questions about writing answered in one source. My new ebook First Page to Finished On Writing and Living the Writer’s Life is the book for you.
Marita Golden is the author of 17 works of fiction and nonfiction. She is Co-founder and President Emerita of the Zora Neale Hurston/ Richard Wright Foundation. As a teacher of writing, she has served as a member of the faculties of the MFA Graduate Creative Writing Programs at George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University and served as a Distinguished Visiting Writer in the MA Creative Writing Program at John Hopkins University, and at the University of the District of Columbia. She has taught writing workshops nationally and internationally to a variety of constituencies and is a writing coach, workshop presenter, and literary consultant.