Thursday, 15 September 2011

Ashamed of writing

A topic that comes up on AW occasionally from newbie writers is the issue of being embarrassed or ashamed to write. For the people who bring this up, they often say that they don’t tell family or friends they write. It’s their secret business and presumably it stays that way until they lose that sense of shame. Fair enough, you might say. We all work differently after all. Plenty of writers (me included) don’t want people to ask too much about their work until the particular piece is finished and they don’t want to let people read a work in progress. That I can understand. Shame, on the other hand, is an issue I’ve never got my head around.

Being creative doesn’t make a person automatically better than another. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more intelligent or have more to say. It means they express themselves in a particular way whether that’s through writing, painting, designing, singing or whatever floats your boat. But at no point should that creative person feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit that’s what they do. So what if they never achieve any professional success with it? The chance is there, and with that chance, they could entertain hundreds if not thousands of people. They’re using their brain; they’re exercising an inbuilt talent instead of letting it go to waste. Look at this way: which is a more productive use of someone’s time – writing a book or letting their brain dribble out of their ears while they watch a load of pointless non-entities on Big Brother? It’s a strange world that connects shame and embarrassment with one of those issues and puts the other up as entertainment.

So, newbies, don’t be ashamed of what you do. Embrace it. Be proud of it. And if your name doesn’t end up on the front of a published book, then still don’t be ashamed. Shame is the last thing you should be concerned with when it comes to writing. 

10 comments:

  1. Well said! I agree 100%. If people want to keep their writing under wraps until they have a completed project to show off, that is understandable. However, they should not be ashamed of what they have chosen to do, regardless of how it goes.

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  2. Thanks for reading, Wendy.

    It's worth mentioning that from all the people who've brought this up at AW, I don't think I've seen any of them say why they feel they should be ashamed of it.

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  3. Yes, I've noticed that too. I don't understand what the dirty secret is, but I do hope they can be proud of their creative endeavors. :)

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  4. Never been so glad to be so shameless.

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  5. The last thing I would call you is shameless, Diane ;)

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  6. I was in the closet for a long time. I was afraid to see the looks on people's faces when I told them I was a writer. I imagined they would react the same way as if I was telling them I was going to audition for American Idol - kind of a, "Well, good for you, and uh, best of luck with that." All the while with a dubious expression on their faces.

    But that's not what happened. People were surprised when I told them I wrote, but there was no negativity. I wondered what I was so afraid of.

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  7. Imagine telling an arachnophobe not to be scared of spiders. They know the spider is small and harmless and easily squished with a newspaper. Logic tells them that, but when they encounter one, an emotional reaction kicks in.

    Likewise with shame, at least for bad sufferers. It's not there because writing is shameful. It's not there because of embarrassment. It's a psychological condition that's probably been there since childhood and manifests itself whenever the sufferer finds something important to them. Shame kicks in when you're buying stamps or posting submissions or waiting for the post or even getting an acceptance. It stops you even looking at your own published work.

    It's not a good thing and it's not healthy, but it's not easily overcome.

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  8. Interesting. Didn't know about that sort of thing. Arachnophobia, yes (my wife suffers from it), but not shame in that respect.

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