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September 26, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Silenced Words -- How Shyness Impacted My Life

By Colleen Hammer More Blogs by This Author

As a writer, being shy is no easy task.

I chose to be a writer because I love to write. I can sit down at a computer and just let the words flow out like some kind of magic. It may sound cliche, but to me it was magic. When I was fourteen I discovered my way of words, and my parents were supportive of my choice of career every step of the way. I often regaled in tales of magic, young adult, and romance fiction. I wanted to impact someone's life with my writing, the way that many authors had impacted mine. 

But I was shy. My words were quiet when I spoke to people, and I was often afraid to bother people. I had a hard time making connections with people because of my past in school, where I was teased for a good portion of my time there.

Whenever I think about it, a voice chimes in my head saying: "But that was back then, this is now. That shouldn't impact you, when you've grown so far from that."

To me, this has become a phrase I repeat in my head constantly. I found it doesn't just relate to teasing in school, but everything. It taught me to start living in the now, and putting the past behind me. I shouldn't be shy because people have teased me. So why do it today?

As a writer, I can't be quiet. I can't be silenced. I have to speak.

Speaking Out

There are many times I find myself at a computer, and I can let my mood affect my writing. I start comparing my works to other authors, or I think I won't be able to reach their level of success. This is counterproductive, and not a great way to really fix my shyness. I need to write. For me, writing is like speaking. Although I can read so many other layers of emotion writing than speaking.

For example, I can paint a picture of a memory. I can make someone remember something, or imagine something they want. I find that power invigorating, and it makes me feel connected to people. I want to feel connected to people, because of my desire to reach barriers with people. 
I want to speak out in my writing, but there was one point in my life that I was unsure I could do it. My parents encouraged me, and told me that I should write no matter what. No matter how I feel. Speak even if you feel it's wrong, because you just might make a connection to someone.

Once I took a dive into a place I was afraid, to move towards something I didn't believe I was good enough for, I felt immensely filled with some sort of rejuvenating happiness. I felt maybe pushing myself to do something was what I needed.

Was I afraid? Definitely. I was afraid to fall head first. I wasn't sure of my own writing, and I felt like I was doing something wrong. But let me tell you something important:

That shouldn't matter.

You should do something even if you are afraid of the outcome anyway. What's the risk? To say you never did it? 
I would rather live knowing I did something than sit and watch someone else do it and succeed.

What If?

There's always the question of "what if" in my mind as I write. In a way, it's a good type of "what if," but at the same time it can also be a bad type. It's not good to question your own skill as a writer, because you can doubt yourself so much that you barely write anything. I had been under the issue of "writer's block" -- which I now refer to as a myth, because I don't believe you are ever truly silenced to write -- and spent more time hitting the backspace key on the keyboard than actually writing. I doubted my skill, and it was tearing me apart.

I sat there in front of my computer, and pondered why I felt this way. It had never hit me before, and I had always had a heavy arsenal of words to write. My mom always had remembered me clacking away at the keyboard, hen-pecking my way into victory as I wrote another novel. But on that day, I felt defeated. The words were gone. I had been unsure of my own value of work.

Was I losing it my skill? I doubted myself then, but now I think I had the potential to write what I wanted to say. Writer's block is a myth, as I said before. Why? Because there is always something to write about.

What color is the sky today? Write about that.
You tripped as you walked down the hall? Write about that.

People can relate. People care about experiences, if they relate to it.

Even now, I think it's funny how I never truly thought of this. There is always a way out. There is always something to say. As a writer, being silenced is not something that just happens. It happens when you do it to yourself, but even then you are still able to speak.

There is no such thing as being silenced. You could even write about being silenced.

So I stopped using that as an excuse.

Don't Write for Others

I love to write, and the idea of someone reading my work and being inspired makes me extremely happy. I go giddy and smile from cheek to cheek, and think how happy I'd be to sign autographs for people. 

But you shouldn't always write for people. Sure, I'm going to write essentially for people. But when I write, it shouldn't occur to me whether something is wrong or right to say because of what people would think. It's okay to think "Hey, this will impact someone," but you should write for you. Write about something that makes you happy. There's a heavy balance between writing for people, and for you. It's even hard for me to explain right now, because it sounds like I'm being an oxymoron. But I assure you, I am not trying to sound like one.

Writing is tough. Writing is something you work at, and I admit, I'm an amateur. I'm no James Patterson, or J.K. Rowling. But I'm further than I was yesterday, because I write despite my fears. 

If I want to sit down and work on my novel, I will do it because I want to. The end result is ultimately being published, but it's also to further my career. I shouldn't keep abusing the backspace key, deleting what I say, because I am afraid people may not like it.

I should write. I should speak. I shouldn't silence myself.

Now this may all sound like motivation, and words that may fall on deaf ears. But it's true. It's meant to be motivation. Ingraining this into my brain will help me be a better writer, and it may even help you. If it helps you, I am honored. As a minor in Anthropology, and a lover of studies of people and cultures, I would be happy if it motivated you. If you were in a dark place of your life, or simply feeling unsure of your writing and you read this and felt inspired, then I am glad I could offer words of wisdom.

But today, I will write. Today I will not let my words be silenced. Not tomorrow either.

Because, as my dad once told me, "You can't tell a writer to shut up."

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1 Comment

  • good story Colleen - just keep plugging away at it. It reminds me of the show about nothing, do you know which one I'm talking about? It's Seinfeld they claim this was a show about nothing, which related to everyday living!

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