Shelley Widhalm

The Fearful Writer

In 52: A Writer's Life, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on September 8, 2013 at 11:00 am

The general question is: Without fear can there be passion?

Or, more specifically: Can a writer write from the heart, soul or whatever that magical place that allows words to come forth without some insecurity?

These questions touch on the notion that love borders hate, so that a (passionate) love affair can turn into an acrimonious breakup, one that may or may not induce fear.

For a writer, or at least for this one, passion carries a bit of fear, because the moment I am perfectly confident in my abilities, I get bored. Ironically, I become scared that I have quit growing as a writer.

This imperfect confidence is tarnished by a larger fear: not of rejection specifically but of being rejected from now to my grave.

I question my purpose, given that I am in love with writing, want to write, need to write and do write, when I have yet to publish, at least significantly. I question why I have been given what I consider the gift of writing when my words echo without a listener.

My answer simply may be I have to wait and live and experience and write and be for awhile longer until I figure out why I do write. Or maybe I don’t need to figure out anything because the need is just there, like my need to eat, breathe and sleep.

It is all a bit philosophical, a conundrum of being and identity.

I have had several “non-writers” who want to write tell me, “I have a great idea for a story, but I don’t know how to write.” Or … “how to get started.” Or … “what to write about.”

Writers or so-called, self-labeled non-writers need to realize that they do not need to be perfectly confident in their abilities to write. They need to start with one word on the page. Add another word. And another … Like knitting, or painting, one stitch or one brush struck, mistakes will be made, but so there will be discoveries.

Fear of doing the writing keeps you from moving forward and believing that something great can happen. The great can be believing in yourself as a writer, other people thinking of you as a writer and then the public and the NYT bestseller list stating that You. Are. A. Writer.

What is the strength of your passion to want to write and be a writer? How long before you give up? And if you do, what do you give up? If you are restless elsewhere in your life, could it be because you are not doing this thing you love? Do you begin to hate that other thing because it becomes not-you, keeping you from your love affair with words, or stories or characters?

When you do something you love, despite your fears and insecurities, it shows. Others will respect you for it because your energy becomes positive and affirming, not draining and the stuff of lover disputes.

Doing what you love is a test that requires faith. It is a belief in your work and in yourself.

See Zoey the Dachshund’s perspective on being a dog at

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