Monday, December 21, 2015

Guest Post: Liz Brooks



Today I'm very happy to have one of my blogging friends, Liz, guest posting. She has an awesome blog with an awesome name: Out of Coffee, Out of Mind. Together we consume virtual coffee which is also awesome.

Stage Fright by Liz Brooks

Note: Before I begin, I just want to thank Opal for asking me to guest post on her lovely blog. All her writing is so amazing, and I’m honored to be given this opportunity.

I know that I’ve covered this topic before on my own blog (somewhat), but it remains one of my greatest obstacles and I’m sure many other writers struggle with it as well. Fear. I constantly second guess myself, constantly question my abilities, constantly down my intelligence. No matter how much positive feedback I receive, it never seems to stick. When I look at my work, I almost always sees the flaws, first and foremost, and I have to ask myself why people would want to read what I’ve written.

Oh sure, there are those beautiful, short-lived periods of confidence bordering on cockiness when I’m certain I know what I’m doing, but more often my writing life turns into a slow drudgery of fear and brain fog and the general feeling that I could before but I can’t now. Sure, I’ve had wonderful responses, but that was the past. The present is dark and gloomy and rather unpromising, so I might as well quit while I’m ahead. Since I know I will never again write anything people could possibly enjoy, I might as well join the Russian Circus or learn how to train seeing-eye lobsters (don’t try to tell me those aren’t a thing).

Ask me if I love writing, and I will always—always—tell you yes, because love is more than a feeling. At times I want to dump all my novels in the trash and use my laptop to play Ultimate Frisbee, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped loving writing. And when I’m on a roll and the muse seems to have rediscovered my existence and my need, I don’t love writing any more than when I’m in the dark ditches of burnout and self-doubt. But despite my affinity for this tumultuous yet beautiful pursuit, there are times when I absolutely resist the blank document and the blinking curser. Times when the siren song of writing calls to me and I stop up my ears rather than listen. Times like these. Already I’ve delayed writing this post longer than I should have, and when I began drafting it, I didn’t get more than thirty-seven words written before I found myself wandering around on the internet like a lost sheep in a giant bog.

“Okay, Liz,” you might be saying, “can you just get to the point already—the part where you explain that life is still sunshine and roses and that fear goes away? We all get scared, big deal. Just tell us how to conquer that stage fright.”

Sorry, no can do. Because my experience has been that fear of this sort doesn’t go away. So I can’t offer you a step-by-step plan to gain confidence and cast off self-doubt. If I could, I wouldn’t be standing where I’m standing—on this metaphorical stage, shaking in my boots.

And now you’re throwing tomatoes at me. Cool.

No, I’m not here to tell you how to make the fear go away or even how to control the fear, because the fear isn’t the point. If I try to control and diminish my fear, it means I’m focusing on that fear, and if I’m focusing on that fear, guess what I’m not doing. I’m not writing. Which means that the fear has won, and I don’t want it to win. I don’t want to spend days and days pretending to be too busy with other things to do the one thing that matters most to me in the world. (Okay, that was a little melodramatic.)

Some of my most popular blog posts were the ones I considered deleting multiple times. Trembling and questioning my intelligence, I sent them out into the world, fully expecting them to get ripped to shreds or ignored completely. And you know what—more often than not, those were the posts that payed off, the ones that got me more readers and more followers and more positive feedback.

So my point, I guess, is this. The fear you feel deadening your heart and numbing your mind is not a proper gauge of your abilities, and making it go away isn’t the answer. To write is to persevere (that sounded deeper in my head), and that means acting as though the fear does not exist—that means refusing to give fear the time of day. You’re scared? So what—write anyway. Focus on what you’re doing, not what you’re feeling. Besides, without fear and doubt, writing would be boringly easy. Art gets produced through pain and great effort, and if we could just pound out a blog post or a story or a novel or whatever without a second thought, I don’t think our work would mean as much in the end.

Even as I write this piece, I have a hard time thinking Opal will want to publish it on her blog, just like I have a hard time believing my blog readers will continue wanting to read the content I post. Yet somehow everything seems to work out. Sure, there will always be days when I write duds and post lame things and regret the day I ever learned how to type. Even so, it’s worth it because the act of writing—not the end result and the feedback and the fame—is the point. And if I can just focus on why I love writing, it doesn’t matter whether I’m afraid or not, because I’ve won.
Thank you so much for visiting Liz! 
Do you struggle with fear when you write? Do you worry about people liking what you've written?

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Opal loves having people visit her blog. She also loves visiting other people blogs. 

5 comments:

  1. Sometimes I wonted show anybody what I've written cause I wouldn't think it would be good and then my friend steals it away and tells everybody it's awesome.

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  2. Thanks again for asking me to guest post! :)

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  3. Excellent points, Liz. I know that some of my best essays for school and blog posts on my own blog have been ones I'm scared to submit. Fear is bad, because it can hold us back from what we need to do, but I think fear in those situations is also good because it allows us to put extra care into something and make it awesome. :D Thanks for visiting, and thanks to Opal for hosting! :)

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  4. Liz, your posts always make me laugh. I'm not sure how you managed it, considering this is a post on fear. I suppose I'm always afraid of what people will think of what I write, but then what is the point of writing if no one ever sees it? Anyways, thanks for a great post!

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