Scared of Writing (And VSS365 Anthology) | Blog

Try as I might, I just haven’t been able to get my shit together.

I haven’t posted anything here in weeks, nor have I posted any fiction or non-fiction on Twitter, Instagram or Medium. Writing — or even just the thought of writing — makes me anxious or depressed or angry.

But many things — things as mundane as walking the dog, cleaning the house and taking a bloody shower — can make me anxious or depressed or angry at the moment. Sometimes I can work through these feelings and get stuff done, but in other instances its easier to simply not bother trying, lest I throw myself out of a state of reasonable mental stability and into a shitstorm of tears, panic and self-destruction. I can sit down to write feeling calm, content, and confident in my ability, and twenty minutes later find myself hiding under the duvet, sobbing hysterically and plotting my suicide. And I promise you that’s no exaggeration, as dramatic as it sounds.

It’s not the writing that’s the problem, it’s me. I want to write so, so badly. I want to finally finish editing my novel and finally get started in earnest on my next one. I want to hammer out the first drafts of a whole bunch of short stories, the concepts of which I scrawled in my notebook weeks and months ago. The trouble is, when I put pen to paper I get sucked into that horrible place where I question if my ideas are any good and if I’m eloquent enough to string a decent sentence together and if I even have any imagination at all.

I think I’m alright at writing. I think writing fiction is probably one of the only things I’m good at. But when I’m questioning my ability and convincing myself that actually, no, I’m fucking awful at it, I find myself coming to the conclusion that I am utterly bloody worthless. If writing is my only skill, and I am bad at that one measly skill, I basically have no skills at all. I have nothing to offer. I have no purpose. My life has no meaning. Might as well be dead, right?

This has been my mindset about writing for months, but right now I’m not in the darkest depths of despair. I’m really working on changing my negative image of myself, and I am not at this very moment convinced that I am a terrible writer. Nonetheless, I still have this stupid fear around writing, because every time I write I risk pushing myself over to the hopelessly dark I-really-wish-I-was-dead mindset once again.

It’s not just writing, either. It’s reading too. For weeks I’ve neglected to read the work of my favourite bloggers and writers on WordPress, Medium and social media. Why? Because they’re a reminder that they’re doing what I’m not. They’re using their imaginations, flexing their creativity, playing with words and language and entertaining their readers. They’re doing everything I want to be doing and am too anxious to do. They remind me of my failings. And not only is it selfish of me to cease supporting the wonderful writers whose work I love, but it only makes me feel disconnected from the online fiction world and exacerbates the belief that I am not good enough.

What the HELL am I gonna do about it?

If you’re sick of me bleating on with this woe-is-me attitude by now, I don’t blame you. I’m probably more sick of it that anybody else. So I’m going to try to change it.

I’m currently in therapy, doing a combination of CBT and REBT and DBT and all the variations of BT, I guess. It’s still reasonably early days but I’m learning a lot about how to process my thoughts, feelings and beliefs in healthier ways. My self-harming habits have reduced, I’m suicidal only, like, 50% of the time instead of 98%, and I finally have a more positive outlook on my life. I’m hopeful that eventually I’ll be able to operate like a ‘normal’ human being again (whatever normal is), and accept all facets of myself – the good, the bad and the average – without mentally beating myself up.

I’m trying to get back into the routine of writing a little every day, even if it’s just spewing my thoughts and feelings out into a notebook or writing about that weird, creepy dream I had about eyeballs the other night. If I find that any of these witterings are worth sharing with the general public, I’ll post them. But I’m going to forgo any formal posting schedule for now so that I don’t have to feel like a failure when I don’t adhere to it. Instead, for the time being, I’m going to see if I can just make writing fun again without any of the fear. ‘Cos writing really used to be my absolute favourite thing ever, and there’s a tiny hopeful scrap of me that knows it still is.

VSS65 Anthology

Speaking of fun writing, now is a great time to turn a negative post into a positive one (and massage my writing ego a little) by sharing news of the recently released VSS365 Anthology, in which one of my tiny Twitter stories has been published.

The #vss365 hashtag game on Twitter is a hugely popular daily writing challenge. A new single-word prompt is posted every day and writers are tasked with penning a tiny flash story that fits within the site’s 280-character post limit. Back in summer the founders and hosts of the challenged asked for submissions to the anthology and one of my tales was accepted. It’s certainly a confidence boost to see my work published amongst that of hundreds of incredible writers and I feel very lucky to have been part of a such an ambitious project.

All royalties from the sale of the VSS365 anthology will be donated to The Book Bus, a children’s literacy charity. So, if you buy a copy, not only will you make lots of writers very happy to have their work read, but you’ll also be helping kids across the world to access lovely books and learn how to read. Go and check it out on Amazon.

Over and out

Well then. I um-ed and ah-ed about posting this because it is so negative and whingy and whiny, but sometimes a good whinge is necessary. A problem shared and all that. Thanks for reading. Hopefully I’ll some more fun stuff for you to read in the near future.

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20 thoughts on “Scared of Writing (And VSS365 Anthology) | Blog

  1. Hey! So, if I’m being honest, I haven’t done a whole lot of writing myself lately. I just wrote a bunch earlier and scheduled it on my blog so I can keep going through these periods. I know it’s not easy when your stuck in negative self talk but it is normal to have moments when it all feels wrong and the writing doesn’t come. For the record, I enjoy your writing.

    I’m glad you are doing the therapy. I’ve been there too. DBT actually changed my life. I’m really happy to hear it’s all reduced your suicidal thoughts by half. Take the victories as they come.

    Just wanted to take a moment to send you a little love and compassion. Hang in there. Things change and someday this will seem like an important time in your life when you took the steps to get better. <3

    1. Thank you! Really appreciate your kind words. It’s great to hear that DBT was so helpful for you. I’m feeling pretty positive and, as you say, hoping to look back in the future and see real change. Thank you ❤

  2. Do you remember that I took one of your humorous pieces – the one about the woman and her slobbering dog – to that writing group I was leading, and that made them all laugh out loud? Women, who didn’t exactly want to be there, from a totally different background and culture to us? And it was us all laughing together over what you had written which started us working together. That was the power of words. Good words, funny words, your words!

    I’m sure we all have our doubts. I know exactly what you mean about worry about keeping to a schedule of posts. It becomes a bit like a treadmill. It shouldn’t. I keep reminding myself that the world really isn’t waiting for my words, but it becomes a bit of a compulsion, doesn’t it?

    It’s always lovely to hear from you – I was so pleased to see your tweet about the anthology yesterday! As you say, you were selected for that and that something which is so good to be part of. I just cannot do the VSS thing. I admire every single person that does.

    It’s good that the therapy you are doing is helping, and that things are improving. Small steps.

    You are most certainly a good writer, a good reader and a great supporter, my friend. Keep scribbling in that notebook, get into that happy space. Share when you’re ready, we’ll be here.

    Shame I’m so far away… you’ll have to make do with a virtual hug. 🙂

    1. I always seem to forget things like that but you are so right, it was amazing to read that one of my daft little stories resonated in your writing group! I have a habit of forgetting or pushing aside the positive… it’s almost like I want to make myself miserable sometimes haha. Thank you so much for your support and kind words, Chris. Sending a virtual hug right back!

  3. Ellie, I don’t comment often on posts, but after reading this post I felt compelled to leave a little message. Please don’t question your ability to write, I’ve been following your blog for a while and honestly I wish you would write more! Congratulations on your tale being accepted, please take this as affirmation of the fact that not only can you write, but you can write incredibly well. Also, glad to hear that you’re working on staying positive, I wish you luck and look forward to future posts! ☺️

  4. Hi Ellie. I’m glad to see some writing from you, even rants! I have the same feelings that my writing is not up to par. But Id be wrong. To prove that, I just go back and read some of my previously posted stories. People liked and commented on many of them. The same for you. If your writing wasn’t good, you wouldn’t get likes or comments.

    YOU wrote a story that a loved. (One of many) The one Im thinking of is the Sy Fy story about a Captain that needed his crew to flip a switch at the same time or be lost forever. He counted down…3,2,1 and everyone flipped the switch except one man.
    The Captain chastised him with the final word “Everything is on the one” Remember that? It dovetailed a song with the same name. This was short and one of your best.

    So chin up, pen down, just for a minute. Be well and come back to writing when ready.

  5. So sorry to hear you’ve been feeling like this. I have your little Mayday collection bookmarked to buy sometime this year, and I don’t buy many books by other writers because mine are free! So I would say you’re a very good writer.

    I find that inspiration to write comes and goes, and I think that’s natural for all of us. I feel a bit of pressure to post regularly as well, and I agree with you that it’s best to ignore that feeling otherwise writing ceases to be fun.

    1. Thank you, that’s so kind of you. You’re right, inspiration comes and goes, it’s so important to jump on it when it comes and have fun with it rather feeling that pressure to right when it’s not around.

  6. I could say something stupid like, “Hey, even bad writing is writing,” but I won’t. I’ve been in your position before and it sucks. It does sound like you are on the right track, E., in getting some help, although I’ve not the foggiest what all those letters stand for. The last time I was in your spot, I decided to write my notes out on WP. I did it so I could tell myself I at least doing something more than boo-hooing myself into a corner. Anyway, I’ve missed you and I’m glad to know you are still around. For what it is worth, you are a great writer, fiction or otherwise and congrats on your recent publication!

  7. Hope you start feeling better soon, Ellie. I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot, but you’re not alone in your struggles. As long as you’re taking steps to improve your mental health, that shows hope. I wish I was as prolific writer as you are, though admittedly I’ve never blogged on a schedule, I only post when I’ve written something I want to share with readers.
    It takes courage to reveal your innermost demons, but it can also help others who suffer through similar hardships. And you write very well! I always enjoy reading your posts.

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