Photo: Pablo Rogat/Shutterstock

Graphophobia: The Fear of Writing

Photo + Video + Film
by Joshywashington Sep 24, 2009
Blank page paralysis. Curse of the pulsing cursor. Together we will confront graphophobia, the fear of writing.

It’s time to write. I wait for an image, a phrase, some remembered thing to jerk my hands against the keys but nothing comes. My palms itch, I try to sip from an empty coffee cup and curse at the lawnmower across the street that growls like a dog munching on my gray matter. I suddenly know I will never eke out anything worth skimming over, let alone reading again.

I suck.

In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.
– John Steinbeck

Do you ever ask yourself ‘am I good enough? Do I have anything worthwhile to say? Will people like my writing? Will people read my writing?’

The great Peruvian poet, César Vallejo, in the first quatrain of his sonnet “Intensidad y altura” wrote:

I want to write, but it comes out foam,
I want to say a great deal, but I get stuck;
There’s no spoken cipher that’s not a sum,
No written pyramid without a core.

Every writer grapples with graphophobia. You are attempting creativity and honesty in one careful motion. It’s like marching into a jungle with a half full canteen and no compass. You don’t know where you are going or what you will meet.

This is the solace: we come to this place, as writers, together. We name the fear, we pin it down with pens and move on, further into that dark jungle, happy for the fear and danger. The fear tells us we are moving closer to the place we want to be.

Writing is easy, you just stare at a blank screen until your eyes bleed.
-Douglas Adams

Across the street the lawn mower hits a rock but grinds forward.

Community Connection

Do you struggle with graphophobia and writers block? What does it feel like? What exercises do you use to overcome these struggles? Share your experiences in the comments.

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