The best writing comes from a place of courage. Of facing up to our fears and tackling them head on. The best writing isn’t censored or submerged or flimsy. It hits hard and leaves you gasping for air.
Writing what you fear can not only mean you produce some of your best work, it can help you deepen and expand as a writer, and bing about a sense of peace and satisfaction like never before.
So how do you write what you fear? Try doing this:
Write about what you dream of
If you could be any kind of writer, who would you be? Go on, just dare to believe for a minute. Would you be a travel writer, going on amazing adventures and exploring the world? Would you write an autobiography exploring the scary, crazy unpredictable events of your life? Would you be a poet? Would you write weird, niche fiction that you know may not appeal to anyone else but that you would completely love?
Sometimes our biggest dreams are our biggest fears. We shut ourselves down because we think our ideas are too crazy, too 'out there' or foolish to work. But if you want to be true to yourself, and to find true satisfaction in what you write, really think about what it is you want to write about, and then only write about that.
I have written poetry and have begun attempting a diary-style novel. I still have yet to work more on that one and want to, but am still preoccupied with trying t finish my memoir to my best satisfaction. I was a little hesitant of starting the diary novel and there are some things I was afraid to include, but I did overcome all this fear in writing. Also, I wrote down what I could remember of a dream ai and a while ago (see here) that seems to have the makings of a horror/fantasy novel or even a short story, though I have yet to decide I want to develop this idea any further. But I noted down what I could remember of the dream just in case.
Write about what you care about
Being vulnerable is pretty scary, but if we tap into all our emotions, all our experiences, some pretty incredible writing can emerge. It can be hard to really let our imaginations run wild or to really dig deep into our emotions or our past. It can be scary to use our love for someone, our heartbreak or our pain in our writing - but if we let ourselves be vulnerable in this way, the emotion will come across in our work and it will be raw and vulnerable and beautiful.
All that I have been writing about in my memoir is stuff I care about. There are some things I can recall, but am not sure if I want to include them or if I feel a need to include the, I plan to include what I fell is necessary and pertinent to the subject of my memoir.
Write about what you don’t want to talk about
What are you keeping locked up? What secrets do you have? Exploring the deep, dark depths of our souls is terrifying but can be where our best writing will come from. Not only will we feel brave and courageous, but writing about what you have kept hidden from others can provide a huge sense of relief and ultimately catharsis too.
Whether or not to include certain recollections in my memoir also pertains to this one. Often I will recall something that others won't and become afraid that if they see what I have written, of how they will react. If I know these people, they might try to deny what I said is true or simply say that they don't remember this, whatever it is. I can just see how my aunt, who died almost nine years ago, might have reacted to some of the stuff I have written thus far.
Write about what you think will shock people
Be fearless in your writing, don’t soften the edges, don’t tiptoe around the subjects that might cause controversy. While writing purely to shock may seem gratuitous, if you are writing about a serious subject don’t avoid the gruesome, graphic details. It may make your readers uncomfortable, it may shock them, but it will get them to react. You may feel scared and uncertain, you may be worried that people will judge you, but fortune favours the brave after all!
Again, with the feared reactions by others. If they say that don't remember, they probably will be shocked. Some details my be exaggerated, based on how much I can actually remember, but will be true for the most part.
So next time you get that feeling of anxiety or hesitation and you feel yourself resisting what you really want to write about, just stand up to your fear and work though it.
You’ll find if you do you just might surprise yourself and produce something truly amazing. So aim high, dream big and don’t worry about what other people think!
Yes, fear and anxiety are two big factors in my life as is being hesitant about doing some things. I'm doing my best to to overcome some of these when getting my ideas down on paper.