You can stare at a blank page for an hour and not write anything.
Or you can just start to write, push past the fear, whatever it is, and just start.
You can conjure up memories from when you were nine, writing stories with your best girlfriend, or you can tell another story from when you were in your teens, mourning the loss of things held dear. You can tell anything you want, but you're always telling yourself this: the story you're telling has already been told, and probably better than you can ever tell it.
You should push past that fear and encounter the worse fear: that the story you're telling won't be true in six months or six years and you will disappoint everyone who wanted it to be true.
And everyone else who already knew it wasn't true will gloat, hook their thumbs behind their suspenders and say "I told you so." Only they won't say it to you, to your face, they'll say it to themselves and anyone else who is waiting around their table for a morsel of self-importance.
After that fear there's another one and it's the fear that what you write will change someone's life so dramatically and drastically that they tear the page from the book, fold it into small pieces and carry it with them in their wallet or their journal. And that fear is accompanied by the reality that you know you don't even believe half of what you write, not, at least, until after you've written it. And if that makes you a hypocrite, well, at least it's not retroactive.
But deeper still you're afraid that what you say won't matter at all. That no one reads or cares, despite how facts might say otherwise. You're afraid that your small voice in a clamoring crowd is just noise and then you're afraid that that's not enough for you, even though it should be okay.
You scribble short fiction, four paragraphs or less, because anything longer takes you places in your mind you'd rather not go.
You're afraid that if you let your mind take a foot, it will take a mile and you've gone down that road before and the scenery left something to be desired.
But you can't help but wonder if this time it will be different, if this road, this book, this piece, might set free that fluttering, flightless bird stuck in the depths of you.
So you try. You stare at that blank page. You stare at it for ten minutes. One hour. You stare at it and then start writing, in the second person, because to say I is to own fears you don't want to own.
"Be without fear. This is impossible, but let the small fears drive your writing and set aside the large ones until they behave – then use them, maybe even write them. Too much fear and all you'll get is silence."AL Kennedy