By Jennifer Garam
Once in a while I see a post on another writer’s blog that I just have to have. I was reading this post over on One Writeous Chick and it felt so perfect for our FoW readers, I asked my friend Jen if I could republish it here. She was happy to accept! Welcome, Jen. ~ Milli & Co.
Writing is scary.
I have a compulsion to be nice, an obsession with people liking me. I’m afraid of hurting people in my writing. I often find myself trying to take care of and protect them, with my words. Or I just don’t write those stories.
These are some things I’m afraid of, in my writing:
I’m afraid of hurting my family. I’m afraid of hurting my exes. Of hurting their girlfriends and wives, their ex-girlfriends and ex-wives. I’m afraid of hurting men who have hurt me. I’m afraid co-workers or bosses will read some personal detail about me that will make me uncomfortable, squirm at the water cooler, look down in the cafeteria. That they’ll read something that will adversely affect my review, even though I don’t get reviewed at my job. I’m afraid that an imagined future employer will Google me and decide not to hire me, because I’m a flawed human being who struggles, and my flaws and struggles are Google-able. I’m afraid I’ll hurt friends, acquaintances, people I don’t like, and people I can’t stand.
But recently, I’ve been asking myself, What would I write if I wasn’t afraid? And the answer is: A lot. The countless stories that are crouching in corners, I’d write them if I didn’t have to navigate my fears, take care of this person, protect that one.
If I wasn’t afraid, I wouldn’t try to hurt people with my writing. I wouldn’t write in ways that criticized and blamed. I’d just . . . tell the truth. I’d be who I am and tell my stories, honestly and openly, vulnerable, flawed, and struggling. I’d write some things that would make people want to come closer, and other things that would make them want to look away. I’d take ownership of my life and my experiences. I wouldn’t try to take care of everyone else. I wouldn’t apologize, and I wouldn’t hide. I’d write it all. If I wasn’t afraid.
And recently, I’ve been thinking, I don’t want to be afraid anymore.
What are you afraid of? What would you write if you weren’t afraid?
Jennifer Garam’s articles have appeared on The Frisky, Health.com, The Huffington Post, Crazy Sexy Life, and in Interview Magazine, and she writes the blog “Progress Not Perfection” on PsychologyToday.com. She also writes about creativity and self-esteem on her blog One Writeous Chick, and about being a Type A urbanite using yoga to help manage depression and anxiety on NotSoZen YogaJen. As the founder of Writeous Chicks, Jennifer teaches writing workshops for women with an emphasis on self-care, healing, and having fun. Follow her on Twitter: @writeouschick.