There were days—and they weren’t so long ago—when writing held no fears for me. I’d just arrived in a new town and joined a writing group to get to know people. Having never written before I caught the bug and soon started a blog for which I wrote flash fiction. I started to various writing challenges and posting them on my blog. People started to notice and even appreciate my writing. That was the start of the long slippery road. Well perhaps not. But those really were happy carefree days. I wrote because I enjoyed it and wasn’t really worried about the reactions I’d get because my expectations weren’t high anyway. It didn’t last. I started to get noticed. People began commenting on my stories. They were liked. Then I was asked to contribute to the first two Chinese Whisperings volumes. I was pleased, yet at the same time doubts set in and the most paralysing question in the world crept to the fore. Would I be up to the mark?
That has become greatest writing fear. What will others think of my writing? Will they consider me up to the mark? Is this a fear more common with writers who work collaboratively? After all, there is more at stake here than just one’s own reputation?
The fear of not being up to the mark is not always a negative thing. Sometimes it can motivate me to produce my best work. More often than not, however, it is paralysing and results in, at best, some mediocre writing.
What do I do to try and counter this? Sometimes nothing. Those are the dry periods in my creative life? One thing I have discovered recently is the need to not put myself under pressure. A large part of this is the ability to just walk away from things when I need to. I know I’m not going to produce anything worthwhile by just staying in front of the keyboard anyway. But if I get away, I can come back with renewed enthusiasm. And that usually helps.