Jul '11 31
I've been wrestling with fear around my writing for quite some time now.

Since my first poetry book Exposure was published in 2003, I've struggled to believe my writing is good enough (for whom or what I'm not exactly sure). I've tussled with doubts about my worth as a poet. I've been tormented with thoughts about how others might view my writing or wonder how on earth I managed to get published.

This is in spite of many people buying my books; in spite of tons of feedback about how my poems have affected readers in many wonderful ways; in spite of some delightful moments of optimism and self-belief.

It's like the act of putting my work out there for all to see has made me self-conscious, like the child who suddenly comes to understand what it is to be naked, discovers what it is to be embarrassed and therefore must hide.

Three published poetry books later and my belief in my own writing ability continues to dive. It seems I have created a negative feedback loop that I now desperately need to break.

Knowing that this is a common issue among writers, artists, musicians and other creative types has done little to alleviate my non-stop internal chatter. More worrying to me is that these feelings of inadequacy and fear of criticism have definitely affected my capacity to draw organically from my creative source, to write for myself, to write what I know.

That's why the following sentence from a book called Art and Fear1 jumped out and smashed me right between the eyes today:

...fears about yourself prevent you from doing your best work, while fears about your reception by others prevent you from doing your own work.

This elegant statement encapsulates beautifully how two spears of fear are paralysing my ability to generate my own, best work.

Now I just need to find ways to:

#1. stop thinking I'm not good enough
#2. stop thinking the world agrees with #1.

If you have any ideas, hints, tips or tricks, I'd love to hear them!

1 thanks to Amy Matthews for the chapter

Posted by Jennifer Liston