Personal Development, Writerly

Battling Yourself: Fighting the Fear of Writing

I wrote a draft of this blog post twice before I sent it to a friend and fellow writer for some advice. It’s a dilemma I’ve rarely faced in the year since I’ve first started blogging. Usually, it would take an hour to crank out a post, edit it for clarity, and hit publish. I would feel confident, rarely second-guessing myself or my thoughts.

But now that has changed, and it’s taking every effort to combat it.

Writing can be such a personal outlet, no matter which form it takes. As a blogger, you’re initiating conversation and forming connections by allowing readers into your personal life. As a fiction writer, you’re imagining a new world, with characters you can relate to because they are often based on individual experiences.

Words are powerful, full of thought and meaning, and it’s true that the meaning you give those words is often a reflection of yourself. Perhaps that’s why writing can be as detrimental as it is rewarding. Being a writer means being vulnerable, subject to criticism and rejection. Suddenly, you feel as if you’re a prisoner to a craft you once loved: a blinking cursor or a blank page turns into a self-made cage.

Only, you have the key, right there in your hand.

With your fingers to the keyboard and a pen in your hand, you can unleash creativity and allow inspiration to grow in the place of doubt.

An insightful commenter on the previous post mentioned the works of David Leisner, a classical guitarist and composer who created the Six Golden Rules for Conquering Performance Anxiety. While these rules pertain to music, specifically, they can be altered to fit any aspect where you begin to feel the hints of self-doubt.

Below are just a few of the steps as related to writing:

1) You have practiced to the best of your ability. Trust your automatic pilot to do the rest of the work for you.
There comes a point where you begin to over-think your own writing, where that red editing pen fills in the margins of your manuscript and your screen is peppered with track changes notifications. You become so worried about crafting that perfect paragraph or sentence and choosing that just-right word that you lose your stride and second-guess your choices.

Trust yourself. Trust your ability. Put away the pen, turn off the editor in you, and let the words come naturally, as they’re meant to.

2) Do not judge what happened or what will happen.
You’re not the writer you were yesterday. And tomorrow, you may not be the writer you are today. That’s because not only are you constantly revising and editing your work, but you’re also always learning, growing, and experimenting with your craft. Don’t worry about what others are doing or what they’re writing about. Listen to yourself; write what moves you in that moment.

3) Do not second-guess any audience member’s reaction…as your perception will probably be inaccurate. Please yourself only.
Why do you write? When you take a step back and consider it, why do you really write? Is it for the paycheck? To see your name on the bestsellers list, your book on the shelves? Or does your motivation run deeper. Do you write for others, to gauge their reaction and be showered in praise?

Or do you write for yourself? Because you have stories to share and you feel like you could burst any minute with experiences and emotion…Because writing is second nature, like breathing, and without it, you would be stifling a part of yourself.

Not every person is going to like you, understand you. Not every reader will appreciate your words or the work that you put into your writing.

But then again, others will.

It’s impossible to fully understand what every reader thinks of your work, as every opinion is different, stemming from their own preferences, values, and experiences. What’s important is how you feel; what matters is what this writing means to you.

Write because it makes you happy. Write because you have stories to tell and experiences to share.

Write because you can’t imagine doing anything else.

Just write…Half your battle will be won.

3 thoughts on “Battling Yourself: Fighting the Fear of Writing”

  1. You hit the nail on the head here – as bloggers, writers, and online journalists it’s so easy for us to second-guess and over think ourselves. Half the battle is to just sit down and let your thoughts go. In the first episode of my Podcast – I talked about my writing process, and I said the first thing I do is just write – I don’t worry about editing or adding credibility with outside sources (initially). I think doing that can stifle the thought process. Instead, I focus on getting everything that’s on my mind written out and then go back and add layers.

    Great advice here – and in the end, you have to write because it’s something you love, not something you feel obligated to do.

  2. I say, forget the rules, forget people’s expectations of you, and just focus on yourself. If writing makes you happy, or if it eases your mind to write about something, do it. Don’t go crazy and post about something you will later regret, but don’t hold back too much either. As I recently wrote about, blogging is like therapy. I agree with Matt, great advice!

  3. Matt: I think writing through on the first draft is the key — get it all out there, say everything, then scale it back to get the point across. The problem I find sometimes is at that point, after I get everything out. I wonder why I’m sharing this, if it’s worth it, if it would matter. But it does matter — it matters to the writer, and maybe that’s the most important thing. Thanks so much for your comments and advice! Looking forward to checking out your podcast as well!

    Sam: That’s exactly why I do it, why I push through that self-doubt and write anyway: I love it. It’s really that simple. My draft folder has a dozen entries that I wrote for myself but didn’t post because they were too personal, but they needed to be said. However, for the most part, I want to share because a part of me hopes that someone can relate or that someone can offer their words of wisdom. I think there’s a balance you have to find, and maybe that’s where self-doubt comes from, in part — feeling a bit unbalanced.

    I loved your blogging is like therapy, by the way! So, so true! Exactly how I started twenty(or)something. Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *