I’ve been trying to write something over the past few days. If I give the excuse that life happens, I think it would be just lame. So, let me put it like this. There is a succession of thoughts, a thread but it is so fluid that before I know it coalesces into several streams and just flows away. I had even reached out to the writing community on Twitter asking for ideas to get the writing mojo back. Of course, I received some wonderful, practicable suggestions. It got me thinking. Why do I fear not being able to write for a day or two days or a week? That’s not much time, right?

When I had started out on this journey, it was to loosen up. I would say there was no fear. As I navigated through this writing world, meeting others, getting sucked up into groups and activities of the community, it began to worry me. I soaked up suggestions and dictums and rules. Yes, there was a lot to learn. And learn we must. But at what cost?

From writing at my own pace to making a schedule and writing every day. People began to hound me with questions about writing a book. Next, they would probably be asking me if it was a best-seller!

I wanted to shout from the rooftop, “Hey! I don’t have a story.”

 It was nerve-racking. How far could I push myself? I felt conscience-stricken when I did not write. What had I bargained this for? As I looked around me, I realised that more and more writers were probably sailing in the same boat. The fear of not writing rules writers.

Much that many of us do profess it is for the love of writing that we write, I beg to differ. It is for the fear of not being able to write that a lot of us write. I sometimes console myself that it isn’t yet a vocation for me and I have an unfinished pile of work at my desk from my day job, but somewhere along I do think it is just another way to vindicate myself. I know I should be writing. Could you say that I have probably joined the ranks of the fearful.

They say fear can also give you courage. Quite paradoxical but I’ve seen that happen. I don’t know if my fear of not being able to write every single day will give me courage, and if yes, what sort…but I do wish to get rid of this fear. And I think the writing world by and large must get over the twitchiness that comes from not writing, the fear of losing, the fear of doors closing, the fear of being an outsider in the community, the fear of their writing being judged. Because when we set out, we had none of these standards to match. The arts should cease to be a race. The arts are meant to resuscitate. Not to extinguish.

If you do not think like any of what is written here, congratulations! You are writing for all the right reasons. And if you identify with any of the above, I hope our writing (yours and mine) can help deliver us from the fear of not writing!

20 thoughts on “THE FEAR OF NOT WRITING”

  1. This spoke to me on many levels, Sonia. I am familiar with all those fears more than I would like to admit. But yes, sometimes that fear will give courage too. You should see the absurd things I write in the name of writing. I feel bad. But then eventually comes a bit of clarity. I am so glad you wrote this post, Sonia. It’s always to know that there is company. 😀

  2. This spoke to me on so many levels. Articulate abs beautiful Sonia. ‘The Arts should cease to be a race’… Sums it up for me. Having said that, I write more often than not under the scrutiny of deadlines. But, it should not be so. Thank you for penning this❤️

  3. I have my days. Sometimes I am so scared when I go on without writing for a long time, that I start believing that I am not a writer, that I don’t know how to tell a story. I probably don’t too. And then there are days when I am okay when I am on a break for a few days. This year has definitely been weird for me when it came to writing. There were only very few days that I actually sat down and wrote, and initially I would feel so lost, but then I started telling myself to be okay with what was happening. A lot started changing with the lockdown and I knew if I wouldn’t be kind and gentle to myself there would be a darker shade of me out, a shade I don’t quite like to look at. Nanowrimo was a way to get back on track, even if I did not publish it right away, I tell myself now that I have written it, I will some day publsih it.

  4. Hey Sonia,
    Before I say anything, please know that my intention is not to preach or paint myself in a ‘holier than thou’ hue. Not at all. I’ll share my views which are based purely on my life/writing experiences thus far.
    Anything I’ve ever attempted: be it parenting, teaching, writing or planning a holiday, if my motivations come from a place of fear, I’ve always felt uneasy and unhappy (similar to your state in this post). However, over the past decade or so, I’ve trained myself to work (more and more) from a place of love (of self, for the work I do). Love here encompasses surrendering to the creative process as well as being grateful for ones station in life and ones faculties that help enable such pursuits.
    Of course, disappointments and rejections knock me off every now and then, but I’m able to find my equilibrium quite comfortably (after venting:) That equilibrium is impossible to arrive at if there is too much ‘noise’. Writing forums and groups etc. are great but every now and then, a vacation from ‘tips and advice’ can work better than the advice–if you get my drift.
    I sincerely hope you can manoeuvre your heart away from feardom and lead it freedom–where love lives–your muse awaits there:)

  5. Well, I have such long breaks between writing that I don’t even know where to start. And yes, like you, I know I can console myself that it’s not a vocation for me. I don’t know how it sounds but, at times, my lack of writing, specially long-form, stems from the fear of not knowing how to end the story. Like the Nina Daruwalla story from A2Z. I’d planned it halfway, but didn’t know what to do for the second half. Then I counter it feeling that unless I actually write, I can’t be finishing the story anyway. 😀

    I think largely this fear of not writing is a good thing. What you call courage, I’d call it spurring. This fear spurs us to face the keyboard and clack out words, because we have stories inside us, and regardless of how they might later be perceived by the readers and the wider world, they need to be told.

    Sorry for the ramble. Best wishes for your writing. 🙂

  6. It sounds as if a large part of what you’re experiencing is a variation of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) anxiety brought about by social media. If the pressure is external, you can always tell people you’re prewriting. 🙂

    1. Thank you Liz. I think the pressure is more internal. Could be FOMO, I wouldn’t like to rule that out as over sometime I have largely reduced my online activity.

  7. Sonia, I think that writers are writers and no there shouldn’t be a contest. I haven’t been writing as much lately and I don’t think it has anything to do with fear as much as a feeling of claustrophobia at being shut in with the Covid precautions and not being able to gather “fodder” for writing. It’s like asking a horse to run a hundred miles without eating. Writing depends on inspiration and if you’re confined and literally trying to stay alive in a pandemic, the fear for me comes in as far as my loved ones. When the mind is not getting fed and is distracted by survival, the inspiring thoughts that make writers sing with words gets muffled. Thanks for writing about not writing as it gave me a chance to express my thoughts on it.

    1. Oh…Can I say you just made so much sense. I’ve tried telling myself that the pandemic hasn’t got on to me but yes, there’s an entire back flip that life seems to have done this year.

  8. You touched the chord. Yes, there’s that fear when I’m not able to write, fear when my stories or blogs are not as good as others, fear why I can’t write as wonderfully as others …but yes I give myself excuse im just a blogger, I’m not a content writer and bla bla. And I excuse myself from race…I log out of platforms and don’t appear for months…I’ve accepted it this way.

    1. Thank you Ruchi for saying all of this. Even though I know it may not be the best feeling for you, I want you to know it helps when someone tells you they have been through the same.

  9. I know what you mean. But I have now come to terms with my habit of reading and writing at my own pace (unless there’s a deadline for writing, of course). I have accepted, finally, that it’s not a race. I have taken a break (too long) from my manuscript even though I have completed the first draft. I have my own reasons but would be mere excuses. It was so disturbing initially but now I’m okay. Painting is a big distration but I can’t help it. 🙂 There’s no point if you don’t enjoy it. That’s why I have a habit of leaving books unfinished if they don’t interest me. As I said on Twitter, I am writing short blog posts these days (frequently writing Hindi stories :)). Reworking on old short stories. It’s just a phase, I would say. Maybe a long one, but you can’t stay away from writing, can you? See, you’ve written a blogpost. 🙂 Hugs.

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