Ever have those times when you open up a word document to write, look at the screen, and then say, “nope,” and hit minimize before anyone can so much as read one word over your shoulder? Or perhaps you do anything but look at the notebook that holds an unfinished project, your favorite pen sitting atop it, waiting? 

There’s actually a word for it. Graphophobia. The fear of writing.

This isn’t writer’s block or sincere procrastination. You have plenty of ideas. You are ready to devote time to finish your writing. It’s just the thought of putting those ideas down on paper, or the screen as the case may be, quite frankly terrifies you. There are times when it terrifies me, and I actually enjoy writing.

It’s not the writing that is so scary, but the knowledge that eventually what you’re writing will be put out there somewhere other people can read it. And what if they don’t like it? What if you make a typo and some internet Grammar Nazi reams you for it? What if you offend someone? What if your mother reads it?

There are a million reasons not to write a word down if someone might see it. My imagination can come up with at least half of those, and quite frequently, it does. Some people have called me a pessimist for this. Personally, I think being able to think up outrageous worst case scenarios helps tremendously with writing and storytelling. What it’s not so handy for is functioning in everyday life. 

Seriously, a butterfly flaps its wings and you lose it because “what if…” and your mind takes you off on some frakked up roller coaster ride of possibilities. And you freeze. You avoid. Because if you don’t do anything, then nothing bad will happen. Or so that’s the conclusion that you come to. Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to live like that?

Call a phobia. Call it avoidance. Call it pessimism. Call it an over active imagination. I’m not fond of most of those labels, to be honest. They’re dismissive. Those worst cases are real to you. They are to me.

But the truth is, as real as they seem, these scenarios are only stories. I’m not good at everything, but I’m good at making up stories. So why do all the ones I tell about myself suck? Because that is where the problem is, where the desire to entertain others turns into graphophobia or stage fright or what have you.

So today, I’m telling myself a good story. Today, the girl in the story posts what she writes anyway. She goes and hangs out with her friends not worried about when she’ll get home. She doesn’t think about tomorrow or consequences. Only the moment. And she’s happy.

I have a story to tell, the story of an astonishing girl. This is how it begins.