I’m Afraid of Being Honest

I’m Afraid of Being Honest

When I started writing in public for the first time, I worried how people close to me would react.

What would my friends say if mined our confidence for a story?

What would my mother think if I wrote about sex?

Will people think I’m odd if I describe how I get up at dawn to write and that I sometimes prefer being alone in a small room with a warm idea to the company of others?

I felt like an imposter.

Image courtesy of Philip Kirk

Who are you to call yourself a writer? Get out of here before I call the police!

My fears held me back from being honest on the blank page and from writing what other people think.

These selfish fears held me back from my best mistakes, from surprising opportunities, and from becoming a better writer.

I should have wrote about the party where I drank too much and embarrassed myself, the time I was fired and what happened next.

I should have shown my warts because that’s our job.

What I do

Each morning when I sit down in front of the blank page, I can feel its paws on my shoulders pressing me down, its cold breath in my ear, his raspy voice telling me, “You’re not good enough.”

I step forward one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one idea at a time. I force myself to press publish. Then, I reach out to others and show them what I’ve done.

When they don’t believe me, I show them my wounds

Do you know what happened when I did this for the first time?


Our would-be readers are more concerned with the problems in their lives than anything you and I are too afraid to say.

Our problem isn’t what people think of our work, that we’re damaged or ambitious, it’s convincing them that our words are worth their time.

So write damn it.

Don’t hold back.

And press publish.

Each one of your words is an arrow in the belly of the beast.


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I’m Afraid of Being Honest

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10 thoughts on “I’m Afraid of Being Honest”

  1. I loved this post really as I could feel my voice when reading through the words speaking exactly the same thing… Yet to start writing something publicly but moving step by step… Hope the day, when I publish my works, is very near just round the corner…

  2. Christine Malkemes

    Thank you for your encouragement. I will write. I will write from my heart because that I who I am. I am called to write: honestly, authentically and faithfully. You? I appreciate you and thank you for your words to push us from thinking to doing.

    1. Hi Christine,
      Honest writing is tough. I read during the week that’s it’s our job to bleed into the words and say what only other people think.

  3. As an aspiring writer, I resonate with this post. I remember hearing the 18-40-60 rule.

    When you’re 18, you care the world what others think about you.

    When you’re 40, you don’t give a damn what others think about you.

    When you’re 60, you realize that others weren’t thinking about you, they were too worried about themselves.

    1. That’s a great rule, and one I’ve to remind myself of regularly. I think writers have to learn this one faster too, otherwise we’ll never write anything honest.

  4. I’ve found that now I’ve been writing blog posts for 6 months, now, it has actually made me write honestly; perhaps because there is a little fear inside that if I invent anything, someone will notice it and reply ‘hey, that didn’t really happen!’ It’s a marvelous discipline for many reasons.

  5. My family and friends know that I am a freelance writer, but they have never read any of my piece. I’m actually embarrassed sharing my blog posts on my personal social media accounts, but I feel quite comfortably okay sharing my posts to people I don’t personally know.

    1. I’m guilty of this to Lem. What’d I suggest is sending some of your work to one trusted friend/member of your family and then asking them for frank feedback about your work. Tell them this is the only way you’ll improve as a writer. Pick just one person to start with and go from there.

      That said, honest writing isn’t easy!

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