Sophie Shepherd

January 29, 2018

Why writing scares me

Originally posted on The Pastry Box

I set a goal for myself to write more this year, but it terrifies me.

It’s not that I’m scared of the act of writing. I feel confident in my ability to string words together on screen to communicate something. I do it daily for work, and even consider it one of my strengths. The part that scares me is having a point of view that has my name stamped on it.

The zeitgeist of America over the last couple of years has gently guided me towards doing more listening than contributing. By listening, I have learned a lot about the world and my place in it. In turn, it has made it harder for me to find my voice. I second-guess myself before writing anything, asking myself:

  • What topics do I deserve to write about about?
  • Should I be amplifying someone else’s voice instead of contributing to the noise?
  • What if I say the wrong thing and unintentionally hurt someone?
  • What if I change my mind?
  • Does publicly taking this stance set me up for unwanted discussion or even abuse?
  • Does this really matter with everything else going on right now?

Common advice is “write what you know” but even that leads to second guessing and self-questioning.

I want to write about my experience in the last year transitioning to management, but I am self-conscious that being vulnerable about challenges could be seen as weakness. Conversely, I am also self-conscious about writing as if I know anything at all when I feel like I’ve got so much to learn.

I want to write about my team, but I don’t want to describe any experiences in a way that doesn’t feel genuine to those involved. I don’t want anyone on my team to ever feel like their personal experience will be exploited in an article I write.

I want to write about my complicated feelings towards to the tech industry, but I don’t want to be seen as ungrateful or hypocritical for my position within it.

I want to write about design trends but I don’t want to discredit anyone’s work.

I want to write about silly things that make me laugh, but I don’t want to be seen as flippant.

I want to write about the things in my life that bring me the most joy, but I am self conscious about ignoring the hardships that others face. I want to write about hardships I face, but I don’t want to be seen as ignoring the immense amount of privilege I have.

It’s all a tricky balance. A balance that, having written all that out, I’m realizing would be a lot easier if I didn’t care so much about what other people think. But I am who I am (conscientious on good days, anxiety-ridden on the rest), and that’s unlikely to change.

So why do I want to write, if it causes this much inner turmoil?

  • I want to share my feelings and experiences in the hopes of sparking meaningful discussions among strangers and friends
  • It’s something I want to get better at
  • It’s the best way for me to both learn about something and work out my feelings

Are those the best reasons? Maybe not—2 out of 3 are self-serving. But they’re my reasons. I hope you’ll join me in overcoming my fear of writing over the course of the next year. I’m already feeling the words starting to flow more freely again.

Writing

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