Be very afraid.
Is your writing scaring you? I’m not calling out all horror writers but people looking to push themselves, find the limits of their writing comfort zone, and push through it. It is hard to do this because we are such creatures of self-preservation, but it is typically here/there, in unchartered waters, that we find that something special. As a writer, hell, as a person, I am always looking to stand out, to be different, to look at the world in a different way. What is the point of everyone being the same? If you’re starting to worry that this is some rant from a newly-enraged teenager, then you’ll be happy to know that I’ve been enraged for nearly half a century.
The other primary … primal?… thing that holds us back, makes us hesitate, is that we are also creatures of vanity – who wants to be seen to fail? Well, for a start, as a writer, you can fail a lot in private first, so no one can see you. Eventually though, you’re going to have to step out, stand up, and declare yourself.
This is me, this is what I write, and this is how I write.
As a scientist you get used to being wrong, but whether you call that a failure probably has a lot to do with how long you stay being a scientist. The same can be said for authors. Writing is a learning process and it is one that never stops. One does not know everything about science, or writing, from day one. Not even on day thirteen. The wonderful thing is, one never knows everything. As writers we are constantly learning, evolving, changing direction, changing style. Everything is in flux. So perhaps our little declaration should be slightly revised:
This is me, this is what I write, and this is how I write. TODAY!
I think that my writing is improving with every word that hits the page, even those that are subsequently deleted. The more I write, the more I think about how that can be done better, differently. I am not at a stage where I think I can tell you how to write, but I can tell you that you must push beyond your comfort zone. You must be afraid.