Guest Blogger Ruth Garcia-Alcantud on Fear and Creative Block

Posted on Jul 16, 2013 in Guest Blogger, Mighty Ugly | 5 comments

One week till I ship my manuscript through the ether to my editor in Seattle. Zoiks!

Ruth Garcia-Alcantud is a full-time knitwear designer and technical editor living in the UK. Fueled by caffeine, yarn, and photos of happy dogs, she promises to blog more than once in a blue moon over at www.rockandpurl.com and you can also find her on Ravelry, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram under rockandpurl.

Little Pencil free creative commonsCreative Commons License D. Sharon Pruitt via Compfight

Fear. What are we afraid to speak of when we deal with fear?

Is it public rejection we are afraid of?

Is it public shaming?

Is it public pointing and laughing?

Or is it actually a fear of just not fitting in with what is considered normal and acceptable?

2013 started great. I had a project in my mind about being mindful to myself, my anxiety spikes were getting worse with more and more work pressure that I put just upon myself, I set off to write everyday as a way to exorcise those issues out, and it was going really well… So well that I got asked to write an article for an industry magazine that could put my name in lots of undiscovered territories and potentially expand my reach.

Write I did. And, unbeknownst to me, apparently the article was good. Good enough to be minimally edited for style and correction and gain praise from a group of people whose writing skills I trust.

And I became afraid.

I’ve had writer’s block for months, since I typed that piece out. The idea that I could physically create something that was GOOD enough to print somewhere, other than my blog… That idea created a block.

A massive, brick-built, San-Fran-earthquake-safe block. I’ve stared at blank pages. I’ve stared at blank screens. I’ve been asked why I’m not writing, what is keeping me away, and the answer to that is:

I am too afraid to be good again.

(just now I’ve stared at the 250ish words typed so far and considered erasing them)

So, let’s examine my fear, shall we?

Public rejection? It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want, no? It’s up to you to close the window if you want. So I shouldn’t be afraid of public rejection.

Public shaming? Ah, this one hits a nerve. Ever since suffering a “confidence test” at school, I’m afraid of public shaming. Yet again, what on Earth could I be writing about that creates public shaming? Knitting??? Who’s going to be shaming my knitting! My stitches are awesome and I know I can do a good job. Again, if you don’t like it, take your troll hat off and close the window.

Pointing and laughing? Well, maybe. But here is the kicker… I am turning the other cheek. You laugh, I turn. You can’t be everywhere and you can be ignored. Pointing and laughing is for bullies and nobody likes a bully. I’m probably better liked than the bully, so I come off on top. No fear there.

But the fear of Not Being Normal and Acceptable? And looking like a Freak? That one stings, like public shaming. Public shaming can be kinda washed off. The internal feeling of Not Being Normal is awful and it stays with you, it takes time to wash off, and that is if it ever does. However, you can become accustomed to the feeling. You can take pride on it. Wait a minute. What are we afraid of then?

Analyzing my behavior I realized I’m afraid of stepping up to a place where my words could be held to a higher standard. So far, my writing has been the equivalent of ooh-that’s-pretty-look-over-here-get-distracted, type it up, and hit Publish. That article was the first time I got asked and paid to write, so if it works and it earns me praise, and if more writing requests come my way… could I possibly step up to the task in the same manner? What could break that wall of fear?

Just yesterday I met someone new who said they read my blog, present-tense, most recently, 2 days ago – huh, someone still does that even when I don’t write, according to my stats. Not writing anything new to repeat readers is Not Good.

What kind of attention am I giving them if I don’t write for them? Am I the annoying restaurant staff member that ignores your repeat requests for a glass of water?

When discussing blogging with this person, she said “I start the year off great, and then I plateau in mid-February and lose steam”. Without pausing for breath (and if you know me you know I rarely do) I said “oh you see, it’s all about building a habit and following through”.

Nicely done, Ruth. You preach what you don’t practice. 

I came home and opened my Filofax. With its neat 2013 insert. Dog-eared and written and doodled on… up to March. The deadline for the article I was asked to write is there, end of the month. Pristine pages after that. My A-Z of business practices and higher-aims in the industry stopped at D. My ideas for tutorials never got started. I’ve had many designs published that never got their own post. The deadline showed me the wall, the writer’s block wall.

All those ideas and plans fell apart because I was too chicken to stand up and follow through, to break the wall, to write for the sake of writing and leave my fears behind. If the only thing I’ve to be afraid of is myself and my own abilities… I am my writer’s block, my enemy.

So I procrastinate. As you do. I see Kim on Twitter asking for guest blogging on fear and I jump up.

You see, when there’s a challenge, I’ve to raise the bar. I’m not one who likes mediocrity when it comes to competition. I. WILL. WIN. OVER. FEAR. Fear can stare me in the face and say “nah-nah-nah you can’t write in your blog”. So, this is someone else’s blog.

Boom.

Block. Destroyed.

I hope this is a brand new start with my blog. I’ve surveyed my site and realized it needs a makeover in terms of style and create easy-to-find navigation. And navigation can only happen with content. Content is writing….

…And I just wrote over 900 words in 20 minutes. That IS content.

So fear can bite me.

  • Em Star

    “Fear can bite me” — so much better than a kitten poster that says “hang in there”! This just might be my new personal motto.

  • http://www.rockandpurl.com/blog Ruth Garcia-Alcantud

    Yes! I like to conquer silly things like fear with attitude. Cute as the kitten might be, “hang in there” would make me feel like I cannot go over the top of whatever “there” is. And I can, you can, we all can!

  • http://www.ihanna.nu iHanna

    Love this post and the promise to yourself, and to everyone, that we can start over any day, start fresh, start again! And isnt the fear of success the hardest to understand & detect?

  • http://www.rockandpurl.com/blog Ruth Garcia-Alcantud

    Absolutely. We may be able to detect it, but understanding what’s at the root and how to destroy it… That’s a whole other story!

  • D. A. Wolf

    The fear for some of us is in not living up to our own standards – what we know we can do (but have a hundred reasons (excuses) why not just now), and the consequence is the disappointment. Our own. When we manage “good enough ” but want and expect do much more.

    Excellent post. And it broke the block besides!