Journal, The Happy Writer

When Being Uncomfortable Is Not A Bad Thing

Your body shakes, your stomach churns, you think that people will stare right through the story and see what a fake you are, or worse yet, that they’ll see the truth in your soul and that they’ll laugh.

In a million different variations, at a thousand words per minute, I’ve thought these things, and felt these things. Every time I submit a story to a publication, or click that bright blue WordPress blog button that says ‘Publish’, I feel it in my gut.

But where does the uncomfortable feeling come from?

  1. You’re trying something new, reaching for a new technique, and experimenting with what’s possible.
  2. The story touches upon something true emotionally, and that can make you feel vulnerable. It’s deeper. It’s personal. It’s your blood spilled on the page.
  3. Insecurity.

1 and 2 are good things. That feeling is very much like that burn when you’re working out, the point of muscle fatigue when you’ve reached your physical limits. It’s useful to challenge those limits sometimes, to get out of your comfort zone.

And so I click publish. And so I send out more writing out into the world. Go deeper, reach farther, be braver, I tell myself. When I focus on 1 and 2, I’ve got no time to waste on number 3.

Are you uncomfortable enough?

12 Comments

  1. I got the same feeling when I made my first comment into the world of blogging. I think it was fear of the public more than anything though.

    But other than that, I don’t usually get that insecure feeling. Maybe I’m abnormal. Maybe I’m too open. …?

    1. If you don’t get that feeling, I’m rather envious. Sharing my writing causes me more anxiety than telling a stranger the details of my life. Maybe I’m the odd one 🙂

  2. GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT post. I’ve learned to “manage” my emotions, to the point where I don’t really react bodily, and I probably don’t *look* like I even care. But of course I do. I want them to like me, to really really like me!

    For the record, I really really like you[r work]. 🙂

  3. Yes! Thanks for making me feel uncomfortable. lol You are very right. I’ve never had anyone express that before, but it is very scary isn’t it. Every time I post, I fear somone will laugh at me, or think I’m crazy, or take what I say too seriously, or think I’m stupid… well you know all the fears and worries.

    But we are some crazy people, we writers, aren’t we? We’re willing to take the risk, and we press that blue button and now, yes, it’s all over twitter where millions of people could potentially come across it and everyone on your facebook friends list, some from high school, some your family, can go and read it.

    What must they think? Who’s really reading your posts? Which one’s are just pretending they know nothing about your writing, when they really know everything, and which pretend to read, but really have no clue?

    We never know! But we write because as you say we got that itch we got to scratch, we got to work out that thing, and so we become our own guinea pig don’t we. Test it out.

    It’s a virtual extreme sport, this blogging thing. We like to climb to the edge of the cliff and dangle off of it, see how long we can last.

    You and I are some crazy you-know-whats. 🙂 Thanks for the post!

    1. Yup you got that right. All writers are a bit crazy or why else do this?! I really admire what you do on your blog – you’re already being brave, dangling out there. I think I’m just starting to look over the ledge 😀

  4. This post reminds me of the time in High School when I joined the Drama club… Every time I got up on stage I felt this flutter of nervousness, this fear. What if I forget my lines? What if the audience doesn’t like my performance? What if, what if, what if…
    Pretty soon, I learned to channel that nervous energy into my performance, to make it part of the performance. Energy of any kind is still energy, after all.

    It’s the same with writing. No, I don’t feel that nervous fear when I’m writing… but like you I feel it when I send out what I’ve written, or when I post a blog, or when I get that SASE back. Will they like what I’ve written? Will they even read it? If they like it will they tell their friends about it so other can read it? Will I offend somebody by what I’ve written, and will that cause them to stop reading what I’ve written? The list of fears and insecurities goes on.

    And if it’s just an insecurity, it looks like an ugly thing. It’s not attractive. But if we own it, and channel it, we can make it work for us, as writers. Fear and uncertainty are real human emotions – they’re part of the universal human experience. And that emotion can become the emotion in our words. And that energy can become the energy that fuels our writing. But it takes a sustained effort, and it’s not easy to see how to make it work.

    1. I don’t feel nervous while I’m writing either, just when those stories are shared. It’s interesting to analyze where the nervous feelings come from and understand them a bit better. Fear, anger, doubt, nervousness – it’s all energy. Channeling it is not always easy, but I think it’s worth it.

  5. Thanks for writing this today, TS. I spent most of the day worried because I feel uncomfortable with the story I’m writing (ironically, the one you offered to look at when it’s done). Like the opening, love the end, but am worried I can’t make the middle support them. A lot of touchy topics to massage in the text. But you’re correct here that being uncomfortable can come from protectiveness towards unfamiliarity just as easily as to prevent you from doing what you know is wrong. Relieved me a little.

    1. Glad that this could offer you a bit of relief. Yeah the feelings come from strange places sometimes. It was interesting to discover that it’s not always a symptom of bad writing, but uncertainty. I’m sure the story is just fine, but if the middle ends up not working, I’ll be sure to let you know. 🙂

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