How to Overcome Your Fear of Writing

March 23, 2016
Writing, Writing tips
How to Overcome Your Fear of Writing!

As a writer, I’m guilty of the following. I listen to the advice that says “Just write! Anything! Put words on paper and worry about editing them later.” But then I read over what I’ve written and cringe. I couldn’t possibly share that with anyone, I think. It’s rubbish. Fortunately, there are multiple voices competing for attention in my head at any one time, and I usually choose to listen to the one that says, “First drafts aren’t meant to be good. Edit, edit, edit.”

All writers have hang-ups and insecurities. Sometimes the doubts kick in before words have even been put to paper (or screen), and at others, the fear is of sharing the writing. Having these fears is normal, and nothing to be too concerned about. It’s how we deal with them that will determine how we flourish as writers. I asked several writers how they overcome their fear.   

Know that you are an authority on what you write about

“The key to overcoming doubts is to remember that no matter how many eyes see it, my knowledge matters.” — Vannessa Wade

Upgrade your knowledge and skills

“I’m constantly feeling like my writing isn’t good enough. But instead of letting fear eat my brain, I enrol in courses to fix what I think is wrong. I usually do some online courses on Skillshare, or similar.” –Marcela Fae

Listen to the encouragement of family and friends

“I used to write in my native language, and I knew that I was superb at it. When I came to the USA, I was shy to write in English. My daughter asked me one day what I want to accomplish in my life, and I said that I would like to write a book. She asked, “Why aren’t you writing?” I answered that I cannot write in English. She told me that I can write, and that my English is good enough. With her encouragement, I published two books in English.” –Maryam Tabibzadeh

“When I feel nervous about sharing my writing with others, I start close to home. I pick a few people I trust completely, and I’ll send my work to them. From there, I branch out and broaden my reach. Eventually, I feel comfortable enough to let strangers read it.” –Charlene Jimenez

Create structure and set deadlines

“For years, I have had a longing to write my story, but my mind’s negative chatter has consistently gotten in the way. I am not an intellectual, overly complicated writer. My writing style is quite emotional, raw, and basic. At times, I asked myself if I should even bother. But my words flow and I do believe the average reader can connect and enjoy my style. This year, I enrolled in a self-publishing school and committed to writing my first book, which will be out this spring… finally! It’s called Big Bottom Blues…From Childhood Trauma to Triumph.” Lucie Buissereth

Don’t compare yourself to others

“There are so many well-established writers online that it’s easy to think ‘why would anyone want to hire me?’ Just seeing the current online writing landscape can be incredibly overwhelming. To get over self-doubt, you need to put your blinders on, and submit your writing! Remind yourself that nobody else writes like you do.” –Ashley Migneault

“What works for me is to not compare myself to, or to compete against, another writer. I accept that some have a larger fan base, they make more sales, or their name/brand is now ‘viral’. Good for them! But what’s good for me is simply to write. And to enjoy what I write.” –Miss Mae

Realise that people don’t want to read about perfection

“When I wrote my first novel, The Wrong Kind of Indian, I knew that crafting it to be as good as it could be meant pulling no punches. It required sharing and exposing parts of myself that were embarrassing and shameful. But nobody wants to read about the ‘perfect person.’ We want to commiserate with the flaws of others and empathize with the worst in each another. If your fear of writing stems from wanting to protect yourself, congratulations, you’re human! Writing is like giving birth or approaching that person at the bar who makes you stammer. It will probably hurt and you might not get the results you want—but what if you do? That ‘what if?’ is why we write.” –Jey Mehta

Try journaling

“I have struggled to share my writing, especially as the subject matter is of a delicate nature: infidelity. When I found my husband texting another woman, I knew I had to journal through the pain, the loss of trust, and the eventual reconstruction of our 25 year marriage. I am happy to say that this journaling became a book.” —Stacey Greene

Realise that fear is natural, and can make you a better writer

“I believe a reasonable level of fear in your writing only makes you better, and that pit in your stomach is essential to the craft.” –Nadine Hays Pisani

Recognise that you write because you have something to say

“I was terrified of writing… what if everyone hated my work? Then l asked myself a tough question: am I writing for head-pats and hugs, or am I writing because I have something to say? I decided to hone my craft and write my truth.”– Erica Gerald Mason

Let go of perfectionism

“The doubts I have about my writing not being good enough is really about my need for perfection. I want my work to be 100% ready when it goes out to the public, but that’s not how writing works. Writing can always evolve, and it’s this concept that I struggle to accept. A rule in content marketing is that it’s better that it’s 90% perfect and out on time than 100% perfect and out a week late.”–Kaitlyn Wightman

Write for yourself

“There will always be different styles of writing, different expectations from readers and editors. So instead of trying to please everyone at once, which would make my writing a muddled mess, I just write for myself. If I’m blown away by what I write, chances are someone else will be too.” –Rebecca Lynn Morales

Find a supportive writing group

“I found a wonderful group of knowledgeable folks who believed in ‘giving back’. They encouraged, critiqued, and educated me through the process of first polishing, and then pitching, my book. Like mother hens, they protected me from my self doubt, then pushed me in the right direction. Contact your local library or check the local papers or search online, but find like-minded women (and men) who are willing to share their knowledge.” –Linda Tillis

Consider the negative feedback, too

“I’m grateful to the people in my life who provide positive feedback, but are also not afraid to deliver constructive critiques. Getting negative feedback is never fun, but it is important. I’m learning to listen to feedback and discern what is helpful, and what to ignore.”–Diane Musselman


About Elen Turner

Elen Turner is a full-time travel writer and editor based in Kathmandu, Nepal. She has led previous lives in the USA, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and the UK. She completed a PhD at the Australian National University in 2012, which examined the contemporary Indian feminist publishing industry, and her biggest travel dilemma is figuring out how to see all parts of South Asia that she hasn’t already visited while not neglecting the rest of the world.

Visit her author website: http://www.wildernessmetropolis.com/

5 thoughts on “How to Overcome Your Fear of Writing

  1. February 19, 2017
    Reply

    thank you very nice sharing

  2. skrotbil
    September 28, 2016
    Reply

    100% Terrific article!! Thumbs up Elen!

  3. skrotpræmie
    September 28, 2016
    Reply

    I believe insecurity in relation to your writing skills is a very common, even among well known, multi-published authors

  4. LucieB
    March 24, 2016
    Reply

    100% Terrific article!! Thumbs up Elen!

  5. March 23, 2016
    Reply

    I believe insecurity in relation to your writing skills is a very common, even among well known, multi-published authors. This informative article covers just about everything a writer can do to overcome their angst. Great job, Ms. Turner!

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