My fear of writing


I love reading.

I always have. As soon as I learnt how to read, I was hooked. In Grade 5 I spent my summer holidays reading and re-reading the Harry Potter 1–4 books, 4 times each.

That’s 5,708 pages in 1 month, 190 pages per day.

I’m not sure if this proves that I was a seriously bored child with nothing much to do in my life, but it’s supposed to take you back to the hook: I really, really love reading.

Writing? Now that’s a different ‘story.’

Damn you, blank paper.

I know what you’re thinking. Many people love to read and don’t write, don’t even think of writing.

But I actually studied journalism at a postgrad level. And before that, I kind of studied English literature. And I did really well in those subjects.

I was generally a hard-working student, and even when I barely understood a subject (say, something that has anything to do with numbers), I’d somehow manage to pass with a decent grade, if only thanks to my hours of work and problem solving.

I’ll get a 92 on a finance exam, but ask me a question (an actual question that involves me having understood something, anything, about what we’ve learnt) and I would understand far, far less than the person to my left who scored 60.

Somehow, writing is different.

Analyzing works of Donne in a timed essay, or writing a lengthy feature about a human rights issue in the Middle East, somehow you can’t just use your logic and solve these questions like you can when finding what the value of ‘X’ is. It’s not logic, it’s skill.

But why am I so afraid to write? I should write often. All writers, write all the time.

I would assume, after my years of academic training in ‘writing’ itself, that ideas would just come to me. That I could beautifully create sentences that flow into each other and send out a message to someone.

Feel like a boss about it, feel confident and just say ‘Damn. Good job, Self.’

Instead, when I actually do write and manage to finish something, I pour over it and I think. And think.

And then I toss it out.

Crumple up that paper and throw it — doesn’t matter where, it’s for dramatic effect. Scribble all over my lines. Click and draaaaaag that shit to my Trash icon (which I should get around to emptying.)

Really — I’m afraid, and nervous, and embarrassed. It’s worse than having to eat a burrito on a date.

But I know it’s not just me. Many writers are like this (or maybe it is just me, and I should just give up now). So, why are so many people afraid to write?

Well, it’s me you’re reading. When you read this, or anything I write, it’s me that’s in your brain right now.

Even the most objective journalist, is part of her or his piece of work. You kind of get used to the rhythm of their syntax and diction.

When I sing, you hear me. When I read, you still hear me, but it’s just in your head.

I become that quiet voice, the one that’s normally yours. It’s a strong connection, I guess it’s a little frightening. Especially since I have the floor. I’m the one doing the talking, and I’m hoping you won’t make fun of me.

I’m hoping you’ll keep me there till I’m done what I have to say and let my words become a part of you.

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