Writing Honestly: Writing and Fear

Karen Moncrieff – from actor to screenwriter

Karen Moncrieff worked for ten years as an actor, then became a screenwriter. In a Writers Guild magazine article, she notes “Writing felt so comfortable in a way that acting never really did. With writing, I was using all parts of myself, all of my skills.”

She wrote [and directed] her powerful film Blue Car in a way as “a reaction to films I had seen, like Stealing Beauty, a very idealized view of a girl’s coming of age. I wanted to get inside the woman’s experience and tell the story from her own perspective.”

I start with something that scares me

But, the article notes, writing the script “became a wrenching, emotional experience for Moncrieff, who often, drained after composing a scene, would curl her head in her husband’s lap and cry.”

“I let my emotions and feelings be my guide,” she says. “I find the things that trouble me the most, the things I wish I could change, are what I need to explore. And it’s always good to start with something that scares me.”

[From article "The Facts of Life" by Shelley Gabert, Written By, Jan 2007; photo by Mark Hanauer]

Fear may be indispensable for creative expression

Fear is a simple label for a variety of experiences, some helpful for artists, but others – like anxiety – can be limiting or corrosive.

Psychologist Robert Maurer, PhD thinks fear may be indispensable for creative expression. “Fear is good,” he has declared. “As children, fear is a natural part of our lives, but as adults we view fear as a disease. It’s not a disease. Children say they are afraid or scared, but adults use the clinical terms anxiety or depression. A writer should not view fear as something bad, but as essentially doing something right.”

Fear may also silence us

But another psychologist and creativity coach, Eric Maisel, PhD warns, “Only a small percentage of creative people work as often or as deeply as, by all rights, they might be expected to work. What stops them? Anxiety or some face of anxiety like doubt, worry, or fear. Anxiety is the great silencer of the creative person.”

[Above quotes are from my article Fear and Creativity]

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