The Scariest Parts of Writing
By Paul Burdiss
We all have things about writing that we’re scared of. Perhaps you’re afraid of getting a bad grade, or being told your baby is ugly. It could be that you’re worried about deadlines. Of course, “scary” is subjective, though I suspect most writers worry about the three things listed here.
First, I know every writer has, at one point or another, struggled with how to begin a project. Finding the right words to stick at the very beginning is both vitally important, as that’s how you first draw a reader in, and often tremendously difficult. However, if this is something you find yourself struggling with, remember that you can start wherever you want. That is to say, you don’t need to start writing where the reader starts reading. If you don’t have good words to start your piece, start writing somewhere else and come back to it. Those words will come to you eventually. It’s even possible they won’t come until you begin revision. Speaking of which . . .
My biggest fear about writing for the longest time was the process of revision. For
me, the need to re-read the words I had written could often be tremendously embarrassing. For others, I know concerns vary from the amount of work required to the notion that needing revision reflects poorly on the writer. Revision, like a proper beginning, is vital to the success of a piece of writing – more importantly, however, it’s a massive part of the writing process. I often find myself spending twice as much time revising than I do writing now, and my investment in the process has resulted in much stronger work. Which leads me to our third great fear about writing: submission.
These days, having to submit my work is what I find myself most anxious about. Whether you’re submitting an essay to your professor or submitting a piece of long-form fiction for publication, you’re necessarily handing over your writing to be judged. If that isn’t terrifying, I don’t know what is. That said, there is not much advice I can offer; it’s a passive process. The only things you can do are to ensure your work is in the best state it can be, within reason, and to remember that the people you’re submitting your writing to are professionals. If they are harsh in their judgment, it is not meant as a personal attack. Often, they want your writing to be as good as you want it to be. So if you do submit a piece of writing only for it to be rejected, don’t lose heart. Take whatever criticism you’re given and use it to improve. Most importantly, keep submitting.
I’m certain you have your own fears about writing – as I said at the beginning, fear is subjective. Perhaps you’re anxious about using the wrong form of “its,” or perhaps you have a problem with comma splices. If there is something else that concerns you that I haven’t listed here, there are a number of online resources that can help you deal with whatever that may be. Never be afraid to ask for help.