Fear and Loathing in a Text Editor

I’ve recently come to learn two things about myself. The first is that I enjoy writing. I really enjoy writing. When I get in the flow and the words just seem to come pouring out of my fingers. It is an incredibly rewarding feeling. Last year I wrote the first draft of a book in three months because I enjoyed doing it and didn’t want to stop writing each day.

Since then, I haven’t done much with it because the second thing I’ve learned is that I do not enjoy reading what I’ve written; I hate it.

As I’ve been slowly doing a first rough pass through the book to polish up the roughest parts of it I have more than once almost thrown in the towel and thrown the whole thing away. I read it, and it’s not anything like what I want to have written. My vocabulary feels too limited, my sentence structures are childish, and my brilliant insights are incredibly shallow. I feel like I need to rewrite the whole thing from scratch.

It’s scary to put things out there into the world. When I write I often feel as if I’m having a conversation with my imagined readers, I can almost picture them. It’s calming and makes the whole experience feel wonderfully relational. But as I prepare to actually publish something that same imaginary scenario becomes frightening, even paralyzing. When I’m writing I can adjust my words, restructure my sentences and control what I’m saying. And I control my imaginary readers in the same way, they’re all happy with it because I’m enjoying the writing process. But once I push the text out to the world it is fixed. I cannot change it anymore and the people who read it will be actual humans with their own opinions, not figments of my imagination who are receptive to my ideas and blind to my oversights.

I put care into what I’m writing and vulnerability is hard. It’s scary to let other people read and judge my work, knowing that they may not like it. Often I’ll get partway through typing something and that fear sets in and kills the creativity. The words languish in the text editor.

Am I a fraud; am I putting my naïveté on full display? When I fire up my text editor to continue working on a draft I look back on the words I’ve written, and they feel so juvenile, so poorly constructed and fragmented.

In Episode 27 of Baronfig’s Eureka Podcast Joey Cofone talks about feelings of anxiety surrounding creativity as he has been writing a book.

There’s a ton of fear, which I write about in the book. Creativity has a ton of fear involved, and you never get rid of it. But you just acknowledge it and still work anyway.

Joey Cofone

That really struck me because I really look up to what Joey has been able to do, all he’s been able to build and create at Baronfig. To hear that he knows that fear as well gave me so much encouragement.

Perhaps these feelings are part of the process.

Perhaps this anxiety is an aspect of creating that I need to learn to accept and even embrace.

Perhaps I simply need to take a deep breath and click “Publish.”

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