How I’m Getting Over My Fear Of Writing
Or “Personal Narrative Of A Pilgrimage To Tolerable Pain”
I started my first blog in seventh grade and I posted maybe three times. “The Deep Thinker”, I called myself. Might have been deep, but it sure as fuck wasn’t long.
Around eight years later I got myself a Wordpress blog. It’s still empty.
My oldest draft on Medium is from March 2016. I have 17 drafts, one of which is just a list with many ideas for posts.
This month I published my first blog post. And I feel like this will be sustainable writing, not just hype.
Since I was a kid I had an interest in drawing and tried to learn it, but lacked the discipline to practice. I had a lot of interest and many ideas, but every time the pencil touched the paper it was like something was holding my hand. Something was blocking me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I don’t remember the details, but one day I had an epiphany: I was afraid the end result would be shit. I feared I’d be disappointed or embarressed by it.
I never did feel like that. In fact, I showed some of my drawings to more experienced friends and they said I had some talent, that I’d probably be great if put in the time and effort.
Yet, despite the positive feedback, my fear was so paralyzing I couldn’t get myself to even begin to draw most of the time.
It didn’t take long for me to see that it was just the same with writing.
For years I held in my head a clear picture of the problem, but hadno idea how to solve it.
Ok, I’m afraid my texts are gonna be shit. Now what?
And then my girlfriend broke up with me.
She was my first love. Then, my first girlfriend. Then, my first heartbreak.
The same day that relationship ended I met a friend who said:
“Dude, you need to make sense of what happened. You need a narrative, you know, a standard answer that you’re gonna give every time someone asks you how and why it ended. Something short, concise, like a sentence or two. Trust me, it’s gonna help you get over her.”
And think about it I did. But my head is a fucking mess, as is my heart: I think a lot, I feel even more and whatever I think or feel gets easily lost in a chaotic haze. Soon enough the thoughts and feelings were too strong and too many, poisoning my conscience.
I needed to extract the venom. I needed those thoughts out of my head. Maybe putting them on a paper would help.
I started to write.
I filled my small notebook with thoughts, trying to digest what happened. Among to-do lists, startup ideas and complex diagrams, suddenly there were pages and pages filled with thoughts about her, me and us.
But that was not enough. The words needed to leave the paper and get on the screen. They needed to be shared, I’m not sure why.
Maybe it’s because things get clearer for me when we try to explain them to others. Maybe I feel an obligation to share with others what I’ve learned. Maybe it’s just my narcissistic need to be seen.
Or maybe it’s just that when we share our load, even if it’s with strangers on the internet or even if nobody’s reading, the pain becomes a little easier to bear.
I wrote a post about the inevitable end of all human relationships and I felt a little bit lighter. I wondered if that’s how Dumbledore felt when he put his thoughts in the pensieve.
That’s what changed: the pain of thoughts in my head was stronger than my fear of writing shitty texts. I no longer wanted to write; I needed to write.
You know how when a car dies and you have to push it it’s a lot harder to get it to START moving than to KEEP moving?
That’s kind of how I feel about writing now. It’s clear to me I wasn’t ready to write before, and now that I’ve started it’s a lot easier to maintain it.
This is how I’m being able to write: by letting the pain of my obsessive thoughts overcome the fear of publishing them.