Intimidation: Getting over your fear of writing


A friend of mine is currently applying to MFA programs for Poetry.  To prepare for his graduate applications and experience, he has begun reading faculty writing. He is applying to six schools, and each school has several poetry professors, which means a lot of reading, if he plans to read all of their published work.  After talking about the application process, he confessed to me that reading their work is extraordinarily intimidating.

Reading as a writer can be difficult. My friend is struggling because what he is reading is relevant, current, and the authors are all alive. That means, basically, that his writing has to meet the standards they have set, because these professors are essentially his peers. Now I understand why he felt so intimidated!

Writing is tough, especially when you admire and hope to emulate the work of your audience. Reading as a writer can be challenging because there is a fear that you are not good enough: that your writing is not enlightened, sophisticated, or strong. The only way to get around that is to just write! Whether you think you are good enough or not, your writing will never improve without the practice of actually writing.

So read as a writer, read other writers, and give yourself some credit: you’ll never know how you measure up to your authorial idols without first getting something written down.

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