Writing and Nerve

For me, filling the page takes a lot of nerve—and I don’t think I’m alone. First I have to get past the shrill nasty voice that says, “How can you possibly think that you are capable of writing anything new or interesting about this subject?” I don’t like her very much, but she visits most days I sit down to write. I’m getting better at pushing her out of the way, but she generally gets her say before I do.

And even when I get past her and start to write, her little creepy cousin perches on my shoulder and whispers, “Are you sure?” every time I finish a paragraph. I don’t like her very much either. But she eventually shuts up as I get rolling and start to feel that I’m on the right track. It can be a long wait sometimes before the writing drowns out the voices, but when it does, I swear I even sit taller in my chair.

At the beginning of a project, I’m up and wandering away from the keyboard every 250 words or so, hoping, I suppose, that the voices will be gone when I get back. No such luck. But each time I sit back down, it’s a little easier and when everyone finally shuts up I can write for a long stretch without a break and begin to feel like a writer again.

My voices are their loudest and most persistent when I’m not regularly at the keyboard. And that’s been the state of my writing life lately. I’ve got out the calendar and once again carved out some daily writing time. If I tame the voices daily, their whining gets shut down until they don’t even bother to visit. Then the writing becomes a pleasure—still hard work and still second-guessed regularly—but a pleasure.

And I start today.

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