How to Move Past Your Writing Fears
Perhaps, I’m not considered a real writer. I don’t have an official degree in writing. So far, the most money I’ve made on my writing has been a big ole .84 cents writing on Medium (which I’m proud of). It would seem I don’t have the credibility to dish out advice or tell my story.
But that’s not the way I see it.
If you do, maybe there is at least one thing I do have that may resonate with you.
Lots of experience in trying.
And understanding fear and the second-guessing we writers go through, and how I’ve decided to tackle my fear and move forward towards my life as a writer.
A lot of my fear starts with sharing my work.
It begins with my heart acting as if I’ve just finished sprinting up a steep, leg cramping hill while being chased by zombies. To me, my heart beating is intense, omnipresent, and obnoxious.
Can anyone else hear it?
I look down at my shirt and believe my heart will soon fly through my chest out onto the table. Ready for everyone to begin their examination. They’ll reach down with their evaluating, prickly, piercing hands, pick it up and say, “I knew her writing wasn’t good enough.”
This fear of believing: I don’t have what it takes to be a writer has stopped me many times.
It’s prevented me from gaining an education in writing. It’s stopped me from accepting an interview for an internship in writing. It’s interfered with my ability to perform and present myself well in an interview to gain a job in the writing industry.
This post is a reminder for myself and for anyone else who struggles with fear. Second-guessing your writing or otherwise.
And how to move past it.
Start by understanding why you enjoy creating and why you want to continue creating. Someone asked me this specific question.
Why do you enjoy creating?
It was a significant aha moment and the catalyst for drawing me out of my fear and acting on my writing dream.
Think back and remember why you love writing.
Writing draws you into a secret world, keeps you up at night, distracts you at dinner with your partner, or while you’re in the shower.
You sit and think about all the possibilities for your work in progress at different moments in your day. When suddenly an idea to your character problem surfaces, or an introduction to your article forms.
It’s like magic.
You run to write it down or hope it will remain locked inside till you have a precious moment.
Writing can feel like a big unknown, causing fear, like the monster under the bed, or the unicorn you could never catch as a kid. But if you understand why you write, it will propel you forward — possibly kicking and screaming — into the unknown so that you can know it.
And your fear will diminish.
If you can understand your why and purpose, you can set goals that can take you even further from your fears. I always knew writing down goals was helpful with achievement. Still, I was reminded of this when I read an article by Greta Heinemann two years ago.
I wrote down goals, as Greta suggested. However, they may not have been as small and achievable as the article mentioned.
I’ll remedy this for next time.
Looking back at those goals that I taped beside my mirror, I see I’ve achieved or started working on most of them.
I didn’t achieve exactly everything I wrote down, but it’s very close. In 2019 I started my writing goals list. Some goals, like a website, blogging, and plotting a novel, didn’t begin until 2020. But other ones, like short stories and joining a writing group, were achieved in 2019.
Creating goals can help you work through your fear, apprehension, and other responsibilities by taking small steps forward. Stash them close by, so you’re viewing them every day, to stay accountable.
Decide where and how you want to take on your writing.
The writing world can seem like an enigma, wrapped in smoke and hidden in a locked box without a key, guarded by a two-headed dragon.
This magical, mystery, writing world can create fear and uncertainty. So many questions pile up and overwhelm us.
About a year and a half ago, I received an unusually candid, eye-opening, and temporarily devastating writing critique from a credible online learning institution.
The individual’s advice was: to learn the craft of writing. I could have given in to my fear right there, and said, ‘I’m not good enough.” Someone thinks my short story is “incomprehensible.”
I love the underdog, which is me in this scenario — and I took their advice. I would learn more about the craft of writing.
Since that critique, I’ve taken writing courses in: structure for novels and short stories, world-building, how to write strong female characters, and how and when to include backstory.
I’ve also purchased books on the craft of writing for: short stories, novels, developing tension and emotion in characters, the business of being a writer, and article writing.
Learning more about what you want to write and how to write it is the missing key to unlock the mystery writing box and lull the dragon into a deep sleep.
Try not to compare yourself to others; instead, learn from them
Comparing yourself is hard not to do, not only in writing but looks, status, jobs, happiness, personality. The list could go on and on.
Comparing is unrealistic and unhealthy.
At times during another writer’s critique, I’ll compare their writing to mine, and fear starts to lean on my shoulder and whisper in my ear.
It’s like their writing is so mind-blowing compared to mine that I’ve placed it on a plate of gold high in the heavens, accompanied by a chorus of angels singing in the background.
Now I’ve told my writing it’s certainly not good enough and it shouldn’t see the light of day.
I’ve finally said enough of that.
Instead, I’m learning to look at other people’s writing as an opportunity to learn how to accomplish what I admire in what they’ve created.
What can we learn from other writers that will help us become better writers?
Connect with other creatives
A critical step as a writer starts by reaching out and connecting with other writers in whatever way you can. Try connecting through a writing Facebook group, an online writing community, a local library writing group, reaching out to writers on twitter, or create one for yourself and others.
The purpose of a writing group can help you overcome fear and improve your writing. The more comfortable I became surrounding myself with creatives and other writers, the less fearful I was to share my work.
Connecting with other creatives will encourage learning, productivity, understanding critiques, and gaining the support of other writers.