Imagine the audience... Writer's Block or Writer's Nerves?

Yes, this post has two titles. Both are equally important. Do you have those days when you can't decide on what to wear, so you wear both? Or you can't decide on what to eat, so you eat both? It's the same indecisiveness. Anyway, I should get on with sharing ideas with you dear readers.

Everyone has a fear of something. This does not imply incapability. Fear does not define you, it only possesses you. It is like a Dementor from Harry Potter. It hovers over you like a cloud before the rain. But remember, there are rainbows and sunshine after the rain. We all have fears or shyness. Some people find ways to work around it. This doesn't mean terminating these fears forever. Work with what you have.

I have been procrastinating on some very important writing recently. There were weeks to do it. There were people who could have helped with it. I also love writing - I have to love it, because I need an expressive outlet and I am a terrible singer. So then why did I put off this important writing? The issue needs to be addressed in the procrastinating post before I actually do this important writing. Chances are that some readers will have the same concerns I have.

I get stage freight behind the keyboard. Let's call it 'keyboard freight.' It is far more terrifying than a speech. Public speaking actually feels easier. Doesn't that seem odd? Public speaking is meant to be the number one fear in the world, above death. Yet my Aspie brain has adjusted to having a crowd of eyes glued to it. The OCD side of me just wants more of that public speaking goodness. Then why is writing so much more nerve wracking?

Maybe that's because I have been speaking for 4 years, and only writing properly for half of that. I also experienced more encouragement for speaking than writing. In a voluntary peer supported group of public speakers, we only see strengths and changes. We don't even talk about right or wrong. I have even, I dare say, not had the desired stage time. It is heart breaking. I miss it. What's different about writing?

Whereas, as a teenager, I was always 'unsuccessful' at English. This is not the main reason (you will have to keep reading for the main reason, mwa ha ha, but it is a reason). This academic subject was not Aspie-friendly. Lengthy novels had me tangled in a sea of details. Every described blade of grass and falling leaf appeared to be as important as any plot twist, which found itself amongst an array of details. Essays were based on a myriad of peers' opinions, all of which seeming equally important. I would end up reading entire books, wondering how I could get a big picture out of these lengthy lists of beautiful theoretical ideas. Nobody suggested writing short articles which got straight to the point. Blogs were barely invented (gosh, I feel old).

That is a long time ago. Now is the time to get past the flaws of things I tried seven years ago. Now is the time to share my ideas with the world. Hang on. That means the entire would could see my ideas. Why does that bother me so much? A Youtube video exists to publicise a speech I made when in grief. What difference is there in writing?

There is something permanent in writing. Sure, speeches can be recorded, but there are differences which add a dimension of time. Speeches are passing in many ways. Writing has its roots in printing presses and and metadata. Speeches have their roots in momentary situations, as important as that may be.

A speech can be 'out of context.' A speech can be part of a bigger picture. Newspapers and newsletters are always quoting people who are just saying a comment as part of a different narrative. Whereas there is an assumption that writers have control over their chosen narrative. Whatever messages they hoped to provide, especially in this day and age of online scrolling, all their possible thoughts can be provided. This is quite an ideal when actually appealing to publishers and publics. But it is somehow perceived as being possible. Writing is meant to give the whole picture. Why does that invoke nerves? There is less room to change the message. Us writers have to be really certain.

Another permanent affect of writing relates to an old trick. It's a trick to combat stage freight. Did anyone ever tell you to imaging the audience as though they were wearing very little? It's because speakers feel exposed in front of many people. Their thoughts and feelings are exposed for human beings to evaluate. Yet this exposure is only momentary for speakers. Recordings are the one exception. Raw momentary performances pass by. Recorded preserved messages haunt us.

Writing has a permanent exposure. If my thoughts and feelings are utilised for a publication, it is stuck out there in the world. There is no taking it back. It can be experienced in its most raw form for years to come. People can evaluate or judge these ideas forever.

Blogging fosters the same fear which I felt in high school when writing songs. Even a mere melody would reveal far too much about my life. Chosen a major key? What a fraud! I couldn't possibly be as happy as the tune I played. Switched to a minor scale? What am I, emo? Whatever I created, there was an internal critic, who was ready to cop it from a world of critics around me. None of those critics really existed.

Speeches operate in the same way. Sure, speeches now go 'viral.' We all saw speeches such as Emma Watson's address to the UN. But we still recognise her talk as one moment in time. What continues is the Tweets and blogs about it afterwards. There is always room for people to add another comment. Writing has now turned into a running commentary. The world always expects an updated opinion, based on the latest. It should be informed, new, creative, revolutionary. Gosh, does every written article have to change the world?

What is the solution? Perhaps the solution is a bit like the common approach to speeches. Imagine the audience is wearing very little. Metaphorically. The 21st Century requires all of us to be exposed writers to some extent. We may not all be journalists, or creative writers, or novelists. We are social media writers, our own personal PR agents. Each one of us presents a message about our thoughts and feelings with the world. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg.

Next time I write something, next time I bear my heart and soul to the world, I will remember how normal it is. As exposed as I am, others are exposed too. It is ok. It will not kill me. Others could even benefit from the ideas.


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