Don’t be Afraid

We are one day out from our March Challenge. I was not going to write today. I was not going to use one of my way to few ideas before March. I will need every idea I can to write every day. So I sat down to read instead. No writing today!  My bundle of books right now are books from writers. (prepping for a month of writing – more on that topic with tomorrows post)

I began my reading with Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird. I started at the end of the book. Why not jump into the last chapter titled the Last Class? It just seems like the place to start. Sure enough there were the words I was looking for all day and didn’t know it.

I know that my writing now needs to come from that personal place, personal stories but that is my fear. How do I share that? What will people think of me or my family?

Here is what Anne said:

” Don’t be afraid of your material or your past. Be afraid of wasting any more time obsessing about how you look and how people see you. Be afraid of not getting your writing done.”

There are so many little ideas hiding in my head but I worry about writing personal stuff. Anne say go for it. We find so often that personal writing when done well becomes universal. We all can find ourselves in other peoples work issues, or family issues/adventures. It feels good to read that others have struggles just like us.

There is the fear of writing about my story  – what if I reveal things that will make others mad. It is one thing to expose my own life but I need to be careful of others. Anne helps us out there as well. The event or high emotion of a tale can remain the same but the characters can change. Your family of one child may become a story of a family of 6 kids, or a bad father may just be a missing father in your tale. There are ways for us to write about the details and emotions we want to share without sharing our specific family. The reality and emotion of our story will shine past the details.

The other fear I have been thinking about today when writing is I often don’t remember things about my childhood. The details and emotions sometimes feel lost to me. Anne reminded me that there are times we just need to begin writing into an event. Start writing everything you remember and with time the missing pieces will surface. I have had this happen over and over again. I have started a simple story or description of an event when I was little and find that suddenly memories begin to pop up filling in the whole story.

Writing helps us write! We must move fearlessly into our lives and mine them for stories, truths and emotions to help us know ourselves and connect with others.

So with Anne’s good words we begin our month of writing –imgres.jpg

Don’t be afraid – just write!


See you tomorrow on the page!


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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8 Responses to Don’t be Afraid

  1. Thank you for this, Joanne! I have been thinking these exact same thoughts! Every year before Slice of LIfe starts up, I have to gather up courage again. My blog has been neglected and my notebook is bored with what I put in there. Your post gives me bravery. We are all in the same boat, aren’t we. 🙂 Shari

  2. arjeha says:

    I also debated about posting today for the same reason you listed. And from reading some of the other posts we were not alone. But like the good writers we are, we couldn’t skip today. Here’s to a great month ahead.

  3. that sounds like a great book! thanks for sharing

  4. bevbaird says:

    Thank you Joanne. What a needed post. I know I worry about remembering my past. I have started to jot down memories and it has been helpful. Looking forward to reading your slices in March.

  5. Anne Lamott seems like an excellent beacon for this endeavor. I do believe I’m listening to Lamott’s least favorite radio station right now and repeating your line to myself: “I will need every idea I can to write every day.”

  6. lindabaie says:

    I too nearly didn’t write, Joanne. And I’m very glad you did. It’s an inspiring post for this beginning again. Thanks for all the ideas about writing personal things, and the push to just write.

  7. Ramona says:

    I love your use of Anne’s words: “Don’t be afraid – just write!” And your words, writing helps us write and see you tomorrow on the page. Such a positive benediction as we look toward tomorrow and our month of writing. I’m glad you wrote today.

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