The Difficulties of Writing: Fiction Vs. Nonfiction

Let me first thank Chris Gould for helping me, finally, find a new blog post topic. Thanks, Chris!

When I sit down to write one of these posts, I find it a rather simple task. Granted, I don’t always find it easy to find a topic, but once I do, the words pour out and off it goes to live on the internet. I can’t say the same for my fiction writing, though.

Blogging or writing nonfiction doesn’t have the same stressors attached to it. I sit down and write what I know of my perceived world. Nothing more, nothing less. Some posts are harder to write than others, like Learning to Love Me: Starting with the Basics, but not hard in the same way writing fiction can be.

When I wrote Learning to Love Me, I struggled with posting something quite personal to me. I didn’t know if I wanted to share those feelings. In the end, I decided I wanted others to know they weren’t alone, and so, I put it out there in the world. The act of writing the post only grew difficult because of the emotions I felt while writing it.

None of my posts have been difficult to write, though. I didn’t have to put a lot of thought into them. I wrote what I knew to be true. Some of them I had to edit more than others, but I didn’t worry about whether they were good or not. I knew some people would enjoy them and some wouldn’t, but I’ve never felt bothered by that.

So why isn’t it the same with fiction writing?

I write a short story, edit the story, and then I dwell on whether it should ever come in contact with human eyes. Every short story I’ve posted on this website, I posted with dread. I’m not sure what I dread. No one has ever openly criticized my writing, and yet, with each post, I’m waiting for some person to tell me I’ve written garbage. Deep down, I know the novel I’ve been editing will be even worse.

Others have mentioned how hard it is to put their writing out into the world, so I know I’m not alone. Why do we struggle with posting our fiction so much more than our nonfiction? What’s the difference?

The difference is in the truths. The real truth and the truth I’ve created for the reader.

When I write nonfiction, like this post, I’m writing what I know to be true, and since this truth hurts no one, it’s easy to write and to put out into the world. This is my truth. If it doesn’t resonate with you, you have a different truth. No biggie.

On the other hand, when I write fiction, I’m creating a beautiful lie that you need to feel is real in your heart. Essentially, I’m asking the reader to believe in this tale I’m weaving, to love these characters like they are real beings, and to feel the emotions they feel.

Our stories are built from our experiences with tweaks and what-ifs tossed into the mix. We build whole worlds, populate them with people, and we do it all from our minds. For me, writing fiction is like allowing someone a peek inside my mind, and that is scary as hell. I don’t even like being in there sometimes. It’s no wonder it’s scary giving someone a day pass.

I might be completely off base, but I think the difficulty lies in what we show our audience of ourselves.

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