Lately I’ve found myself battling a new yet somehow strangely familiar demon: scriptophobia. What is scriptophobia? The fear of writing, of course. Let me explain:
For about a month I’ve been suffering from a rather severe case of writer’s block. I had been traveling along of a rather swift and plentiful river of writing prior. I had been writing every day for a least a few hours at a time, I had a ton of ideas, and just in general I had been working constantly and consistently. Then suddenly I hit a dam and I hit it hard. I stopped writing dead, like one morning I woke up and I just couldn’t write. The Quest Saga, the side-projects (short stories, other novels and what not), website material, blog stuff. Everything. All of it. It was like I couldn’t think of anything to say. I would just stare at my computer blankly for about fifteen minutes shuffling between various MSWord windows before getting sidetrack by YouTube, Wikipedia, etc.
Of course I realized that I wasn’t writing and of course I began to explain/justify it. I told myself that I was exhausted from my job, which was true but wasn’t the reason behind my not being able to write. I said that it was because I didn’t really have as much time between work and family life, but that definitely wasn’t true as I certainly had plenty of time for YouTube, Wikipedia, etc. I ultimately decided that I was simply suffering from that aforementioned severe case of writer’s block. I figured I’d get out of it soon enough and went about trying to write but not.
Then one day I suddenly realized something: it wasn’t writer’s block at all. I was afraid to write. I was actually afraid to write. My heart was racing, but not in the good way. The keyboard suddenly became a gross, slimy thing I couldn’t bring myself to touch. That brought me to the blank, wall-eyed staring at the computer screen and subsequent internets surfing. Oddly enough, I didn’t come to this realization while sitting in front of the computer but instead miles away from one while I was at work. I often have time to get lost in my thoughts as I do my job and I fantasized the scene I am currently working on. I basically wrote the whole thing out in my head, start to finish. This was the third time in as many days that I did that, but like the other two times before I knew that when I got home and sat myself at MSWord, my mind would go completely blank. That was my moment of, as they say, clarity.
Now, I’m not really suffering from scriptophobia (which is something that actually exists; who knew?) per se. What I have is something a little more…let’s just say odd. I have a fear of success; I’m afraid to succeed. If you’re scratching your head at that one, rightfully so, perhaps it’ll make more sense to call it more accurately a fear of change. I’m not a person that does well with change, good or bad. Putting this into perspective: I’m the kind of guy who will buy a lottery ticket and dream of what I would do if I won, but never actually check the ticket because I am terrified of the prospect that I actually won. As awesome as that would be (or not), it would still be a change from my daily norm and an extremely radical one at that. The very idea reduces me to a quivering mess.
I’ve recently started to submit to literary agents once again. I love what I write. I love reading my stories. To me, my work is brilliant but I understand that such an opinion is very subjective. I don’t really care about that. If other people think my work is brilliant, awesome. If I’m my only fan, I’m content with that as well. That being said, what’s the point of being a writer, or any artist for that matter, if you don’t at least try to share your work with the world? Hence the attempts to find a literary agent to help me succeed as a popular writer.
There are the tinges of self-doubt. What if I suck? What if I can’t write for shit? I love my writings, but what if in truth I’m a talentless hack? True I write for myself, but it would be nice to find some sort of acceptance for all these years of hard work and dedication. More than that, I suppose, is the wonder if I’m just wasting my time and energy. Like all writers I am my own worst critic.
Then there’s the other side of that coin. What if I am really as good as I feel I am (on my good days)? What if I end up *gasp* actually succeeding? As we’ve already established, I’m not comfortable with change regardless if it’s positive or negative. Success is change and the looming threat of that change terrifies me. What if I find a great agent who finds me a great publisher who turns me into a best-selling author which turns me into the success I’ve always dreamed of? Frightful, for me at any rate, and this rationale leads me down a path of self-sabotage, albeit subconsciously; after all, I can’t be a successful writer if I don’t write.
Does all of this sound weird? I know it does to me. If you can’t relate to me at all and just think that I’m a friggin’ wack-job, well then let me say that you’re not far off. If you’re struggling with something similar then my best advice that I’ve been able to come up with for myself is this: realize the demon, recognize it, and force yourself to trample it. I’ve always thought that the old cliché “you have to admit you have a problem” was kind of…well, silly. However, it is absolutely true.
Realizing I had a problem (being afraid of success) and recognizing it (as a fear of writing) has allowed me to bring all out of the subconscious and now that I know what I’m dealing with I’m able to tackle it. It’s still not easy and success (positive change but still, you know: change) still scares the rabbit pellets out of me, but at least I’m able to write once again.