Monday, October 12, 2015

What's Scary About Writing?

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          When I see actors being interviewed on TV, they often talk about looking for and accepting roles that scare them. They want the challenge to dig deep and make it work even if they might fail. However, if they are being interviewed about “scary” roles, it’s because they successfully met the challenge.

          For most of us, everything about writing is scary:

Facing a blank page;

Searching for ideas;

Struggling for just the rights words; and

Feeling stupid or self-indulgent as well as exposed.

          On this year’s Emmy broadcast, Jane Anderson was the winner of the Limited Series or Movie Writing Award for her Olive Kitteridge script. In her acceptance speech she said, “First let me just acknowledge all my fellow writers out there who were nominated tonight. We all face that horrible, horrible blank page. And we’re here and we solved our scripts and isn’t that remarkable!”

          It is remarkable that we write in the face of all the scary obstacles, but, if we are brave, we learn to write in spite of them. We know there are rewards—a phrase or sentence that entrances , a piece we are proud of, or as Ellen Gilchrist describes it on page 68 of her book, The Writing Life:

“…Because it feels good. The brain is easily addicted to feeling good and nothing on earth, with the exception of great sex, feels as good as having written well and truly in the morning. Actually it is better than sex because you control the whole activity and the afterglow can last for years if the work is published and other people profit from it. The lasting pleasure is not in their praise but in your knowledge that you have contributed something of value to the culture from which you derive your being.”

           Be brave. Write. Dig deep and make it work. Contribute something of value to the culture. Make your mark. That’s why we are here.

If we write, we may or may not end up being interviewed on TV or winning an Emmy. The rewards from our work will remain unknown unless we overcome the scary challenges of writing.

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