You’ll be pleased to learn that you’re not alone. Find our how seven famous writers cope with their fear of the blank page.
As a writer, I self-destruct. This happens at different times. The last time I convinced myself I could never be a writer, I opened a business I had no business running. Two years and a sad amount of money later I realised what I should have known all along. I am a writer. I want to write. I know this, but it is still a battle I fight every day. The fear doesn’t go away. It just changes.
I feel like a junkie – at least what I think junkies feel like just before they fall off the proverbial wagon. I know my triggers and patterns. I start my self-sabotaging routine. I find fault. I criticise. I find other things to do, because, the writing sucks anyway. Doesn’t it?
These stupid feelings come and go, but I get to this stupid point and it well, it doesn’t go. I fell in love with this quote this week:
So easy, right? Ha! Not quite. What is so scary about writing? We reveal so much of ourselves as writers. We lay bare our souls. We have to strip down. We have to go deeper. The better we get as writers the scarier it gets, but the more liberating it gets. Getting there isn’t easy.
How do other writers deal with this fear?
How 7 Famous Writers Cope With Their Fear Of The Blank Page
- Judy Reeves calls it ‘being vulnerable on the page’. In her book A Writer’s Book of Days, she describes it as ‘the truth of your exposed and bleeding self, spreads line by incriminating line across thirteen inches of cold white monitor’. If you have the book, read the entire piece on page 123.
- When I interviewed Raymond E. Feist for Writers Write, he said, ‘The hardest thing for a writer to conquer is fear.’ This fear is sneaky and insidious and manifests in strange ways. Instead of settling down to write, you decide to reorganise your sock drawer, sharpen your pencils or nip down to the hardware to buy some supplies to fix the garage door. ‘Get over it,’ he says. ‘You’re never going to write the perfect sentence—but just get something on the page. Start writing.’ He has written for more than thirty years. Read the full interview here.
- Janet Evanovich has conquered her initial fear. She has written many successful books. She says the most difficult part of being a writer is ‘meeting expectations. The constant fear that this time out I might disappoint the reader.’
- Dale Carnegie seems to understand a thing or two about procrastination. He said, ‘Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.’ I substitute the ‘go out’ with ‘start writing.’
- Stephen King has fought his share of demons. He says, ‘Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes; they win.’ Don’t let them win.
- And then Natalie Goldberg always manages to put it so well. ‘If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.’ Acknowledge your fear, but do not let it overwhelm you.
- Anne Lamott sums it up for us: ‘You can get the monkey off your back, but the circus never leaves town.’
The fear of the blank page is always going to be there. The fear is going to change. Once you have conquered the first fear there will be new fear. A new worry. In the spirit of positive thinking let’s call them challenges. There will always be challenges. I guess it is a matter of figuring out your triggers and finding ways to deal with them.
by Mia Botha
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