Why Does Writing Make Me Feel Naked?

Obviously, writing is something that I generally enjoy; I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of setting up a blog if I didn’t (although, as always, I’ve neglected it for the first two months of this year – we’ll come back to that). However, recently, writing has become like every relationship I had when I was a teenager in that it has swung like a pendulum between being the best thing in the world, the only thing I want to focus on for entire days and nights at a time, and simultaneously the worst thing ever and something which I deeply regret ever starting. I think that is probably something which everyone has experienced at some point in their life; we’ve all had that one hideously long job application form or academic project (I’m looking at you, dissertation which I still wince at the sight of), but frig me, creative writing is another beast entirely. I’ve probably said it before, but will most definitely be saying it again, full time writers do not get enough credit.

So, as you’ve probably now guessed, the main reason for having recently ghosted this blog is not because I didn’t feel like writing – quite the opposite. No, I’m not going to discuss it on here because said project which has consumed the last two months of my life is probably totally rubbish anyway and will never come to anything. But, in completing it, I had to put myself through the hideous experience of actually allowing other people to read something which I had written. Again, full time writers do not get enough credit. Unfortunately, reading and writing have a weird, dichotomous relationship. Much like the chicken and the egg, the existence of one implies the other, and so the completion of any writing project is, although satisfying, terrifying because it brings the inevitable necessity of having to let someone else read it. As an anxiety-riddled introvert, this is basically my nightmare.

Even though a significant portion of my ‘day job’ involves writing really long reports and recommendations which get scrutinised by lots of other people, anticipating feedback on any of those has never felt half as daunting as it did to allow someone to read something which I’d made up in my head without any prior instruction. Honestly, the whole thing had me feeling a bit exposed; every word of this project had existed somewhere in my subconscience and was transmitted onto paper (or Microsoft Word, this is 2020 after all) through the filters of my brain and personality, so allowing someone else to cast an opinion over it felt like I was about to appear on ‘Naked Attraction’. And, just when I was getting semi-comfortable with the idea of strangers reading it, I then found myself in the hideously awkward position of needing a close friend to fact check it and give feedback. Again, somehow it felt even more excruciatingly awkward having a friend see it rather than a total stranger; much like being on ‘Naked Attraction’. For the record, I have never been on that programme and have no intention of ever participating; I also don’t actively watch it except when it makes an appearance on ‘Gogglebox’ (which I watch religiously), but if I ever found myself in a stituation where I had to be naked in front of people where it wasn’t medically necessary, I think it would probably be easier to do so in the presence of total strangers whom I would likely never see again, rather than someone I already knew, which would most likely lead to a lifetime of uncomfortable eye contact and avoidance of each other at social gatherings.

Basically, writing on a blog is fairly painless, since I don’t usually know who has or hasn’t read it, and if people do, then they generally seem to keep their opinions to themselves, which is preferred; but writing something which needs to be seen by other people, is really scary and made me feel completely exposed. To make matters worse, I had to leave said project with my friend so that she has time to read it; cue at least a week of heightened anxiety through fretting over what she’s thinking as she reads it. I often say that I would love to be a full time writer, but if this experience is anything to go by, I might need a thicker skin before I attempt it, because the idea of something I wrote being readily available for other people (including my friends and family) to judge, has me feeling like I’m in that horrible dream where you turn up to school with no clothes on. Forget charging into burning buildings or fighting crime, introverted writers are the real brave ones; and I don’t know how any of you do it.

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