Monday, 13 May 2013

Timid Souls and the Bravery of the Writer

I recently read an interview with documentary maker PollyMorland who has written a book about being brave. She was inspired by a group of musicians, the Society of Timid Souls who formed in 1942 with a view to facing their fears and confronting stage fright. It got me thinking. There is a lot here than can translate to writing. So how brave are we as writers? There seems to be a lot of fear in the writing world, and it takes many forms.

Before you even write a word, there is fear of the blank page. What to write, how to write it, can you even write at all? It can become the old "who do you think you are to even consider writing anyway" ploy. And the bravery? It's sitting down and writing that first word. Just one word will kick start the rest, but you have to do it. Even if it's a rubbish wrong word, you have to take a deep breath and write it. The white page or screen is enough to strike terror into a timid soul, but bravery will get the words out somehow.

Then there's the mid-point. Can you finish the story? Is it going anywhere? Is it any good? Should you take up knitting instead? Timid souls would probably have taken up knitting somewhere half way through chapter two, but brave ones battle on until the end, forcing the words out when they don't want to be written.

It's done. You have a story. Here the fear really kicks in. Dare you send it out? Will everyone, as you suspect, hate it? Will they laugh in your face and ask you why you even started? Who knows? You have to be brave and let others see it.

They like it! Timidity crawls back out from under its stone and grabs you by the throat. It lets you know there are two types of fear now; fear of failure, but also fear of success! Both can be crippling. You've gone this far, you have to clench your fists, grit your teeth, (and other clich├ęs) and carry on.

Writers can seem a timid lot; quiet, solitary, stuck in the garret, but inside we have strong, brave hearts and steel-rimmed determination. We have a quiet bravery. You may have to look hard to find it but I promise you, it is there.