Passionate Writing Without Fear


I’ve decided that I’m missing a certain passion in my writing because I’m afraid to write about those things that make me feel passionate. It is a scary feeling, the feeling of passion and I don’t like feeling out of control. I wish I could go back to relinquishing control once in a while. I have built such a fortress of acceptable behavior around myself that I’m not sure when it’s ok to act out. Acting out in writing is probably ok, but even after years of therapy and over one year of weekly therapy specifically focused on recognizing my emotions and letting myself feel them, I am still afraid of them and afraid to let myself act as though I feel.

One of the writing exercises mentioned at the Foothill College writing conference I went to this past summer is to list the things I am passionate about, choose something from the list and write on that topic. I will incorporate this into my therapy by adding my own important requirement, reflection.

In therapy we have been discussing my recent successes in situations I normally avoid, namely confrontations. I avoid them, even small ones like sending an email about something not working properly in our building, because I expect them to turn nasty. I expect people to disregard me, be annoyed, see me as a whiner or say nothing and simply act passive-aggressive toward me. None of this, to my knowledge, has happened recently, but I don’t feel strongly that the confrontations have become easier.

My doctor reminded me that it takes time to undo years of habit, but also that I should be taking the time to reflect afterwards on how well the situation went and how good it feels to have the problem solved because of my direct action. I owe this to myself considering the amount of time I spend dwelling horribly on things when they go wrong; it does make sense to spend a good amount of time working the opposite angle. Wouldn’t it be great to allow myself to obsess for a day over something that went well instead of distracting myself with negative thoughts?

So my plan is to apply this principle to writing passionately. I will not only write about topics that evoke emotions that terrify me, I will take the time afterwards to marvel at the accomplishment and remind myself that I am not hurt, no one died as a result of my feelings and that most likely I have written something wonderful that will speak to my readers more deeply than what is safe.

When you do something that scares you, do you take the time to reflect on what went well afterwards? Do you have techniques to keep your writing infused with energy?


2 thoughts on “Passionate Writing Without Fear

  1. It sounds like a good plan.

    For myself, I’ve found that I think to much either reflecting negatively on what I did or thinking about how people would react. Meditation has helped me to learn to let go of negative thoughts that aren’t helping. That was only successful though once my emotions normalized. But that’s just what has worked for me not necessarily a recommendation. I guess in a way even though I do now without thinking several times over in a day things I used to agonize for weeks over I don’t dwell on the accomplishment much because it is normal and I should think my doing them normal and not exceptional. Sometimes when I do think about myself in the past, like sitting in the car, terrified of driving and screaming and sobbing at the driving instructor….well I never thought I would be able to drive much do all the things I’m doing now. So it’s amazing to me when I do stop and think about it I guess but I don’t really talk about it because most people don’t understand. And yeah, I don’t think about it too much because then I’m on to the next thing and having thought so much all my life I’m kind of tired of it, I want to do now. But since you’re a writer, reflection is kind of necessary isn’t it? So there isn’t much in my story for advice.

  2. Fantastic picture, btw.

    I have trouble dealing with confrontation and with acknowledging and honoring my passions. It does take a long time to overcome one’s conditioning about those things, and for me learning to acknowledge when things go right (ie. that nobody died after I had a confrontation with someone, or that nobody laughed at me when I geeked out about one of my passions) went hand-in-hand with antidepressants. I think my meds lowered my self-consciousness enough that the years of working on being myself were able to pay off. I know that’s not an option for you right now, but something you may wish to consider if you haven’t already. I can’t tell you how fantastic it felt the first time I was able to allow myself to feel proud of something I did rather than just dwell on how I could have done it better.

    Otherwise, practice makes perfect, and I hope you stick to your resolution of marveling at your accomplishment after your write about your passion. One of the things I’ve discovered is that the best way to advocate for yourself and your writing is to show your passion…so keep going!!

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