As a writer, what holds you back from completing your novel? What are you afraid of?
I urge you to listen to Éireann Lorsung’s terrific talk, given at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, on the links between creativity and writing, fear of failure and unproductivity. For first time novelists, especially, she speaks to the fear of spending a long time writing into the unknown and the fear that impedes our forward momentum. We are afraid that we will fail, that it is all a waste of time. She offers comfort and strategies for overcoming fear and taking risks, and explores the tension between writing and not writing; how taking a walk, watching tv, cooking, knitting … living, are an important part of the writing ecosystem, part of what makes our writing unique.
The talk is full of insight and wisdom, good humour and empathy.
I love the image she paints of failure as a ghost that follows us, watches us, holds us back while we strive to complete a writing project.
Over and over I hear my students, my peers, and my own interior voice talk about failure as writers. Often this is linked to an idea of ‘productivity’, and in particular to a perception of others as ‘more productive’. As publication online increases the speed at which writing can appear in public, the distance between writing as a process and writing as a product closes. Consequently, the concept of productivity is measured more and more in terms of visible, finished objects, muddling the relation of publication to the act/process of writing.
Click through to the podcast
*University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival
**With thanks to Will Buckingham for leaving the trail