Social anxiety and the shut-in writer

My last day job often required to talk and collaborate with people all day, face-to-face.  Whilst I could do it if I required, it always left me with the feeling of having ‘lost’ something.

Before I joined the workforce 7 years ago, I was an anime-loving, website-building, games-playing nerd (and I say that with pride!), who made a good portion of her friends online via the big beautiful World Wide Web.  Friendships were easy to form from the safety of my bedroom, without a set of eyes staring and scrutinising me closely.

Naturally I loved to read.  Reading was another way of making new friends and going on exciting adventures from the safety of your bedroom.  To write is also to meet your own characters and visit any number of worlds and alternate universes, without the scrutinising eyes of a real human being.

Is this a simple personal preference, or a reflection of social anxiety or low self-esteem?

I think it may be the latter.

In me, it also translates to a fear of failure and a fear of criticism or not being good enough.  As a writer, it also meant I wrote:

  • Half-hearted drafts, before they were abandoned for not being good enough to continue with (never mind the fact that that is the exact point of writing drafts!)
  • Unpublished blogs and entries (they might be completed but they’re also my creations, my ‘babies’.  Afraid of critical feedback and disagreement, I kept them tucked safely in the ‘unpublished’ section forever)

But today, I want to stop being a shut-in writer!

I want to put my words and thoughts in the world, and I’m ready to hear what you think!  I want to know if you think if my writing is amazing, absolute crap or somewhere in between. I want to hear your suggestions for my improvement or any experiences and advice to share.

I want to stop being a shut-in writer, and I want to become a writer.

You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t try, and that would be worse than failing.

Dear shut-in or formerly shut-in writers, please let me know if your concerns, fears and your journey so that we can learn from each other.

 

(Image source: bLaugh)

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A Muse returns

Hi friends,

I talked before of being stuck in an accounting job for so long that my brain had finally lost all ability to create and invent (which no ethical accountant should do, haha 😝), only able to add, subtract, debit and credit.

It seems 6 months away from accounting is the magic milestone, where my brain started to flow a little more again.

Whilst I completely failed to try and write every day, there were days that I did write and bounce around with ideas (mostly silly ones) and short narratives (because my lack of discipline never brought me to anything longer). And it was one day whilst playing with an idea about a story of penguins, a surge of newfound inspiration and interest hit me for an earlier idea I had been unable to develop.
It seems like just purely trying to exercise my writing muscle was what I really needed, even if the whole time I felt like I was making no progress at all:

I’m so grateful that somewhere a Muse has returned to bless me with a small trickle of creativity.

When you’re experiencing a creative block, what’s your go-to to get out of it?

(Picture credit: Jim C Hines)

Flexing the writing muscle

To be honest, writing is hard.  Creating a brand new world is hard.  Creating characters who are almost living, breathing, changing creatures is hard.  Creating and maintaining a narrative that brings the reader on a breathless and captivating journey is hard.

I’ve never managed to maintain a long narrative.  The best I’ve done is a 40k word short story for my HSC major work (part of Australia’s university entrance assessments), and I never did love that piece of work too much either.

Now I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.  As I try to plan, all I’ve managed to do is find gaping plot holes in own proposed narrative.  The temptation to procrastinate is strong (I acknowledge I greatly lack discipline.)

Since I’ve never managed to finish more than a short story in my life and I’ve not actually written a short story in the last 4-5 years anyway, I thought I might be better off flexing my writing muscle by returning to short stories before trying to write a whole novel (or, gasp, trilogy!)

My plan of approach is to set myself a genre, use a random image generator to help that spark of inspiration, and try to write a couple of short stories.

Hopefully that exercise will help get my writing muscle going, and hopefully I’ll produce a few gems through this exercise too!

The most common advice I hear/read for aspiring writers is “write everyday, anything, something.”  What are your tips or tricks to try and improve your writing capabilities?