Facing Fear in Writing


What fears do we face when we write?

Two main anxieties come to mind:

  1. Getting started. Writing the first words down on a page.

  2. Once (finally) finished: what other people will think of our writing.

How to overcome the fears we face when writing? 

The first thing to consider is where the fear comes from, where it lives. It seems to me that fear resides in over-thinking: that black hole of over-thinking. It’s like you approach the pad and paper. Then your initial light and eager steps begin to slow as your mind kicks into action. This hesitation causes you to trip and fall in and through that gaping black hole. Your eyes and mouth are wide open. You’re gaining speed. The whir and blur scares you to the point that you’re backing up and away from your once-welcoming desk.

Another no-writing day.

Sound familiar? Yeah, I hear you.

So what’s the antidote? If we just stop thinking, will that help? Is that even possible? Well, only in a meditative sense, I believe. But we can certainly aim for something in the middle, like – thinking less. Indeed, a great exercise I did recently was free writing. Have you heard of it? That’s right, I sat down with a pen and paper and tried to write down ‘whatever’. I tried not to think about anything in particular, and, for a long time nothing came. But after a while, in the silence, I did conjure up a vague thought. A snatched moment. A snapshot of life. Those feelings inspired words to flow from my pen. After about 15 minutes I realised that the disjointed text in front of me could be the start of something. A skeleton of a story, maybe. I didn’t actually mean for that to happen. It just happened. The sentences are not polished. They contain LOTS of spelling mistakes. I threw in WAY too many adverbs. Heck, it doesn’t make much sense, now. But it’s a beginning. A start. Something to work with. All that to say, I would highly recommend free writing as a way of getting started.

In fact, note to self: run a free writing challenge in your FB community soon!

I digress.

So we agree that fear really comes from “not having any ideas.” I put that in quotation marks because clearly I had no ideas prior to my free thinking experiment mentioned above. And, as if by magic, I suddenly did have something to write. But if you’re not feeling radical enough for free writing, prompts are also a great way to get your creative juices flowing. There are so many different possible prompt forms out there. You can be inspired by what you see, what you hear and how you feel. Snoop on passing conversations. Steal the best lines from your favourite TV show. But what if you don’t like going out and don’t have a TV? Where else can we find prompts? Well, many writing blogs have creative writing prompts. Many creative writing textbooks, too. And heck, I can even include some writing prompts in my blog posts to get you guys started!

Note to self: add a fun writing prompt at the end of this post.

Right. Get Started Writing. Check. Next!

How to overcome what other people think?

That’s a tough one. On certain topics, I really care what other people think. On other topics, I don’t care as much. I have my own principles, after all (!) I think I don’t care much what others think about my writing because I am not writing for them. I am mostly writing for myself. I am satisfying a certain desire within me to transmit the thoughts, conversations and stories running through my mind, (one hopes) in a relatively pleasing and coherent way. Indeed, if I really think long and hard about it, I am probably looking in the mirror and writing about myself.

Now that’s something to consider. Even if we are really imaginative, really inventive, and write about things that seemingly have nothing to do with our life, we end up writing about ourselves. Because we draw on our own experiences and thoughts as references. Maybe there is no character with your name, with your job, with your likes and dislikes, in your stories. But as the main character of your story jokes with another, as she fights with her boss for a pay rise, as she folds her bedding in that certain way, or as she gracefully concedes in the debate, just as you always concede, the stamp of you appears on the page. And you just have to be OK with that.

Remember what you have to say is your truth. And that is pure. Not everyone is going to get you, though. Because they haven’t lived a life likes yours. They haven’t seen what you’ve seen or done what you’ve done. But some people have. And when they read your writing, they will recognise themselves. They will keep on reading because your words are clear and true. Because you voice the exact thoughts they’re too anxious to express.

Powerful stuff, huh?

I think you get what I’m saying here: Write for yourself. Write more for those who get you. Those people really do exist! They’re a small group – but they love what you have to say. Practice writing to make those thoughts clear and true. Get your ideas out and your story started. Accept that ‘you’ are in the story somewhere, somehow.

And that’s OK, because in some way, we’re all looking in the mirror.

If you want to read more, write more, and think more positively about your writing, why not join our supportive online community – Share Your Story With Confidence Facebook group. We are small, but we are fierce! 

Fun, creative writing challenges coming up! 

Oh, that aforementioned Fun Writing Prompt:

Head throbbing, you roll out of bed and into the bathroom to splash cold water in your face. As you look into the mirror your hazy eyes detect something strange. Something on you.

You notice a big, black tattoo in a foreign script on your arm and have no idea how it go there!

What does it mean? Where and how did you get it?

Post your prompt response in the Comments section. Can’t wait to read them!

Featured Image by Tom Quandt: https://unsplash.com/photos/t94Tx7iunho

Karina ThorneComment