Have you ever opened yourself up to someone, maybe telling a secret you kept for years or a hurtful memory from your childhood. During the entire time you feel scared. You wonder how this person is going to response with something that’s very meaningful to you. Will they laugh? Will they look down on you for it? Will they even care?
The reason you feel this is because you are literally pulling a chunk of your heart out and handing it to that person, trusting them to do the right thing with it.
That’s what writing feels like.
Now I’m not going to defend poor writing. I’m not even going to advocate for people to stop criticizing us because let’s be honest, we need it. But for those who might be wondering why it seems writers are stubbornly sensitive about their work, here’s the basic truth about us and most artists in general; when we write, we’re not just stringing a story together. We’re not just throwing words on paper. Those words have meaning, sometimes deep meaning. Bits and pieces of our very being rearranged into another form.
When I started on my first book, I tried to create a character that was suppose to be modeled off my dad. But as I wrote he started to develop into someone else. And I was fine with that at first. However, it wasn’t until I finished the story and was working on the edit that I realize his flaws and fears were something close to mine own. Unintentionally some of my struggles, issues I was dealing with at the moment, were running congruently with that character’s.
Through writing, I discovered myself.
You can’t write something that you don’t know, which means your limited to your own experience or knowledge. Sometimes that means what you are, your fears, perks, flaws, and deepest thoughts, will bleed through on paper. It’s a beautiful thing, but it can be uncomfortable.
Putting yourself out there for people to pick apart and critique is never going to be an entirely fun experience. We discover stuff about ourselves that we either didn’t know about or were in denial over. But as painful as it feels when it’s happening, it can be a rewarding thing when it’s all said and done.
So if you’re a writer, keep writing. One day you’ll step back and look at your work, something you spent your time on, something you created with your own mind and ability.
And it will be beautiful.
Because it will be more than just a work of fiction. More than just a story. Everything you cherish, everything you know, incarnated in ink. And maybe just like me (and many others) you’ll learn a few things about yourself. When all those little pieces start coming together, you step back, and see the bigger picture.
And it’s you.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.