April 30, 2014

3 Common Writing Fears & How We Can Overcome Them.

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It’s no surprise to anyone when I say that I like to write.

In fact, it’s one of my favorite things in the world, and I’ve been writing ever since I was a young child. While there is no shortage of how-to-guides and tips on how to be a better writer, I’ve found that one of the biggest things that prevents us from putting pen to paper is fear.

Fear happens even to experienced writers. (There have been more times than I care to remember when I have sat before the computer and thought, “I can’t write!”)

However, I feel that the benefits of writing far outweigh any would-be fears. Writing can be a way to get in touch with our inner worlds. It can help us to better understand ourselves and others. In some cases, writing can even save our lives. (It’s not a secret that many therapists recommend journaling or creative writing to patients recovering from abuse or undergoing major life changes.)

Therefore, keep the these tips below in mind the next time you find yourself worrying that:

1. I am not good enough.

This is probably the most common fear. It happens to everyone at some time. I cannot recall the number of times I have looked at drafts and thought they were deplorable. In some cases, they were. However, the question we need to ask ourselves is: why we are writing in the first place?

Granted, if our goal is to become the next big literary phenomenon, then it may well be the case that our writing is not good enough. However, many writers are never published, and some may choose not to share their work with others. This is perfectly okay.

Contrary to what we may think, not every piece of writing needs to be shared.

If however, the goal is to share with others, then asking for honest feedback is a good idea. There are many community writer’s groups and even some that meet online.

Also, don’t think that every effort has to be a masterpiece. In some cases, just letting go of this notion can free us from the pressure and may even lead to better work.

2. I don’t want to over-share or have what I write come back to bite me.

This is a major one for those of us who blog. Speaking as someone who has revealed quite a bit about myself, I still hold back quite a bit. Like most things in life, there is a balance between being sharing and letting it all hang out. A good rule of thumb is to ask ourselves if we would be okay if someone important in our lives, say a boss or a mentor, read it.

Most of the time, though, what gets us in trouble are the personal accounts between us and others. Whenever I write about someone else, I always ask myself: would I publish this if I knew the subject would read the piece?

Secondly, is this how things really are or where or is this just my account? Usually, there are three sides to any story that involves two people: the first person’s, the second’s, and the truth.

Unless we have permission to use someone else’s name, it’s a good idea to avoid names and identifying details about others.

3. This will lead to nothing.

Recently, I threw away a bunch of journals and blank notebooks that represented over 15 years worth of fiction and non-fiction writing. Most of it was unmemorable. A lot of it was bad. I doubt that most of the entries would have ever appealed to anyone.

However, it didn’t matter. Those books had been my friends when I needed them. In the case of the journal entries, it was far healthier to write it out than to keep it in.

Also, even the “bad” writing attempts gave me experience to hone my skills.

Sometimes, though, as a blogger I do feel frustration when I put a lot of effort into a piece, and it receives very little feedback or views. (I had a similar feeling many years ago when a piece of mine was accepted for a journal that had a very limited readership.)

However, I have found that my writing tends to reach more people than I realize. Sometimes, I will have people contact me months later and tell me that they were inspired or moved by something I wrote. Even when that doesn’t happen it’s nice to at least know that its out there. That’s a reward in and of itself.

In conclusion, those of us who love writing often say that we feel compelled to do so from something deep within. When that’s the case, it’s important that we do so even if we experience one or all of fears mentioned above.

At the end of the day, what really matters is how we feel about our writing. Even if everyone we meet says we aren’t good enough, will never make it as a writer, etc., our most important critics are ourselves. If we keep that in mind, it will be easier to overcome these fears.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Pixoto

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