Yes! Writing is scary!


The reasons we don’t want to write are valid. Writing can feel uncomfortable, scary, even dangerous. That’s to be expected.

It’s not just you. It’s me. It’s everyone.  I’ve never met a writer — published, working, or otherwise — who doesn’t feel the fear. The apprehension. The second-guessing. The sweaty palms. 

Should I really be spending my time this way? Is it going to come out good? What if I mess it up? Will the inspiration ever return?

That’s the sound of our brains trying to make sense of the very valid emotions flowing through our bodies. Those feelings never really go away, even with perceived success. 

Here’s why writing has become so scary for us moderns: 

Even if our plot is about a pair of baked potatoes, writing is transgressive

Writing is not vacation. It’s not rest. It’s not work, and it’s so rarely “productivity.” 

Writing doesn’t fit in the system. 

It doesn’t go into any of mainstream society’s buckets.

There’s just not a socially-sanctioned time and space for your writing. Especially if you’re also a caregiver or a person who’s been gendered to serve others first. 

What your body is telling you as you try to make space for your writing, is that you’re violating the norms. 

You’re transgressing a system that doesn’t make space for you, so that you can make space for you. 

And in a world where so much of our survival and success is predicated on playing by the rules, even the slightest transgressions can feel quite dangerous in our bodies.

This understanding alone has helped me summon the courage to feel the fear, and write anyway.

Instead of getting pulled into all of those distracting questions, I hear what’s going on in my body. 

I acknowledge the risks, real and imagined. I remind myself that it’s not all up to me, and that it doesn’t have to be “good” today. I remember who I am and why I’ve committed to writing.

Our April theme is courage. And it never stops taking courage to be a writer. 

It takes courage to say no to all the sparkly activities and important chores and good projects and beloved people who need our attention. 

It takes courage to ask for help when the system prizes pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. 

It takes courage to find ways to resource ourselves with time when the system wants to keep us on the clock. 

I want to help us have more courage this month, so we can do what we’re here to do.   

I also want us to cultivate what my teacher Danielle Cohen calls a healthy entitlement about our work.  

We do indeed have a right to prioritize our writing, no matter what it’s for, how ‘good’ it is, or how many other things we could be doing.

We do not exist to serve the system, and our productivity is not the measure of our worth. 

Remind yourself: you have the right to practice your craft, no matter what happens in your writing session. 

Your courage to write badly will always make you better. 


ps. April’s reading recommendations are also here to give you courage. Look out for my in-depth mini book reviews on Instagram all month.

Photo credit (top): Peter Aroner on Unsplash

Change is a practice: checking in.
Sometimes we need to break it.

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Carolyn True Wasik petersen

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