Every writer faces barriers along their way: not having enough time: not having the right space for writing: not receiving support from those around you. However, for many, internal barriers are the biggest blocker. It’s our internal dialogue that often holds us back.
Helen Cross, our writing workshop tutor for Getting Started in September 2018, is also very aware of the internal battle that many writers face, and she gives this advice:
‘Personal confidence is a big barrier for many writers: why on earth would anyone be interested in your thoughts or opinions even if you did manage to craft them into a work of fiction? Why would anyone care about someone you have made up, within a sequence of events you have invented, when there is so much real drama in the world?
"There are no easy answers to this and the solution comes with writing, writing, writing. As you fall under the spell of your own fictional world and become deeply intrigued by your characters and their problems, your book becomes a story that just has to be told and you begin to enjoy writing it. As your ideas are tested on the page, as you wrestle with the truth and pin it down, you grow in confidence about your place in the world. You start to wonder if someone else might also enjoy reading your writing. Then you realise not everyone has to like it, just some people."
Helen has written four novels, many short stories, radio dramas and screenplays, so her advice to just write, write and then write some more definitely works. Write your way through the fear is the message that I am taking from her words above. She has more wise words on her website also: https://www.helencross.net
For me personally, it took years before I shared Spaghetti Head’s manuscript with anyone – and when I did finally hand it over I felt sick with nerves. Why? I was afraid of being told that it was grammatically awful and the story was rubbish – in short, that I was no good. But as I waited for my reader’s feedback I started to change my thinking to "hang on a minute – I’ve just handed out the draft of my novel – which I wrote, all by myself. So stuff what they think – I’m flipping brilliant for having got that far!"
When the feedback arrived, it was very constructive and motivated me to continue re-writing. I had broken through that initial fear barrier. Three years later and I’ve just self-published Spaghetti Head.
How do I feel now with all my friends and family being able to access it? I feel proud that I have achieved something that so many people would love to do. And that’s what over-rides my fear button.
As Dr Susan Jeffers says, "Feel the fear and do it anyway".
L’atelier des ecrivains – The Writers’ Workshop, France is designed to motivate writers and help them on their new creative journey, so they can create brilliant work. It runs from 20-24 September 2018 in southwest France.