The most common obstacle standing between a woman and her words is fear.
Fear of writing poorly, fear of self-criticism, fear of public ridicule, fear of familial judgement, fear of not being able to express ourselves in a manner congruent to our internal sense.
Our fears are real, they trigger huge internal dilemmas, and they can act like handcuffs on our writing hands.
As a species, writers have done everything imaginable to combat this fear, including consuming large quantities of alcohol and having sex with strangers!
As a student journalist in the ‘90s, I would put myself into an anxiety state every time I approached my typewriter to write an article. Each time, questions about my capacity to create on the page would overtake me, and each story I wrote was a jubilant triumph over self-doubt. It took me years to stop subjecting myself to that inferno and consistently trust in my writing.
It doesn’t have to be that hard.
We don’t have to weave our ego-survival into every sentence we write.
We don’t need to define ourselves by our poems, stories and plays.
We can be relaxed, open-handed, unattached and unfettered.
In her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about how artist Tom Waits’ troubled relationship with his writing improved significantly after observing the carefree way that his children made up songs, then tossed them out “like little origami things, or paper airplanes” and sang new ones. They weren’t afraid of losing creative flow; they knew that the source for their songwriting was infinite.
As women in a me-too era, we are in many ways in a blessed new epoch where we have the opportunity to redress wrongs and release, at last, what once held us captive. We, too, can rewrite the errant mythologies around creativity that invested us with such fear; shirk them off like heavy old sweaters in the summer sun.