Too chicken to write?

Writing can be terrifying. It exposes you. It puts your intellect, education, personality, logic, even your family background – everything about you – on display.

Scary critter at shop outside Hill City, S.D., November 2013. (c. Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

Big chicken at shop outside Hill City, S.D., November 2013. (c. Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

No wonder so many people would rather sit in a locked outhouse full of spiders during an earthquake than write. Then along comes the boss, saying, “We need a report” or “Would you send an email?” What’s a chicken to do?

Yes, a writing chicken can simply suck it up and peck it out. But life is full of little tortures, and it doesn’t need another one. The idea is to take writing out of the list of them.

In 12 years of teaching journalism students, I’ve realized fear of writing grows from one source: lack of confidence. Writing performance improves substantially, even in just a couple of months, when the student taps into his or her inner writer, learning to trust instincts and believe in abilities.

That inner writer may have cold feet for several reasons:

  • The harsh criticism of a teacher
  • The feeling of having nothing meaningful to say
  • The suspicion of not being smart enough or good enough

See what I mean? All of these reek of battered self-confidence.

So how does a chicken writer begin to tackle More

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