Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Writer's Anxiety OR How a rusty blogger got cranked back up again

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”
– Will Durant

Before I started graduate school, I began this blog and I posted entries every few weeks or so about my thoughts. I stopped for the four years I was in school because I was so pressed for time, but I'd feel guilty about not writing about all the new information I was learning.

Now I'm done with my degree, but I am suddenly much more aware of how ignorant I am and how many brilliant people exist in the world. I find myself terrified to write anything. Any time I think of a topic, I convince myself that others have already written about it in much more interesting ways. Or I'll think that I've only learned a little about the topic and will surely share misinformation and humiliate myself. I've found a million reasons not to write over the past few years.

I liked it better when I was less educated and thought I knew more. Ignorance truly was bliss.

I realize there may be many teachers out there who feel like me - afraid to step out on a limb and write about their experiences because of crippling self-doubt. But we all have stories to tell and lessons we've learned (regardless of the amount of bliss-erasing education we've received). If 100 teachers lived through the same experience, we'd have 100 different perspectives and stories about how it unfolded. That's what makes humans so interesting.

So, I've decided to step back out on my limb and begin blogging again. I've come to some realizations about what I need to do to make this happen:

1) understand that blog-writing is not polished writing. I think I've been too worried about making my blog sound dry and professional. Actually, people enjoy blogs that have voice, that sound like real people wrote them. Several blogs I've read recently are humorous and informal, so I need to work at keeping mine the same.

2) live like a writer. I've stopped collecting incidents and ideas throughout my day for the specific purpose of writing about them. Ralph Fletcher says that writers live differently than other people because they file away their everyday experiences for future writings. I need to consciously pay attention to those fleeting thoughts that could become blog entries.

3) sit my butt in a chair and write. I used to have a fairly regular habit of writing each night. I gave myself a small goal - just write a paragraph a night. This was a small enough goal that I was able to keep it even when I felt super reluctant.

I started this blog to force myself to write for an audience beyond myself. I thought having a purpose would help motivate me to get words written. But once I realized some people actually were reading what I wrote, it caused me to freeze in my tracks.

This is my public attempt to un-freeze myself and commit to writing more regularly.

What about you? Do you keep intending to start/continue a blog? Write a book? Start a journal?

What prevents you from writing? What tricks have you found to get yourself un-stuck? Share your ideas below.

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