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The Fear Surrounding Writing

August 25, 2010

Lets face it , writing can be scary and public recognition or publication of your work can be terrifying. Fear is one of the main ingredients of Writers Block and only understanding the specifics of that fear, will someone be able to move past and beyond it, in order to continue their path as an author.
Many budding writers don’t let others know about their work, or keep their blogspots and websites a secret from friends and family; for the most because they fear what feedback or labels they may attract for this pursuit.

This article follows on from a previous post -“Fear and Writing” which can be found  here

If you recognize that the fear is there to protect you, you will be in a better position  to questions its validity in supporting your direction.  These fears may include concerns that readers may be offended, disgusted, or even enraged by your words, thoughts or stories. You may be worried that by submitting articles and books may leave you vulnerable to the harsh red mark of editors and publishers with either a rejection letter or – worse – simply ignoring your query. Sooner or later as a writer you will face the fear of not knowing if you are good enough, if anyone will like what you write, if you can finish, if you can start a piece.

The fear of failure often begins with a writers excuse beginning with… ‘I can’t…because”..… The fear of rejection beginning with  ….”I have to…… because…”

These fears may stem from concerns on what people will think of you, of being successful, of having an opinion or of putting on pretences of being an expert.  Again these are all your perceptions and judgments on what others are thinking and feeling.  Fear leads to writers hesitation, paralysis, block and then finally its creative death.

The key aspect here is that its all about choice. You may choose to keep that fear as it serves some purpose or protects you in some way; or you can choose to let that fear go and rewrite your belief on that aspect. Its really not up to anyone, other than you to make or judge that choice.

So, identify that fear and use the three questions I outlined in my last article.  As often said – if you call yourself a writer – then

  • just write.
  • anything.

Allow all those voices based in fear to shout in your head, thank them and then choose if they are serving where you want to go with your writing. Then  decide to write a short assignment ( short story, article, review a paragraph from your new novel), write a crappy first draft, and watch your fear disappear. The key element here is to allow yourself to write a crappy first draft. Either find someone to help you edit that crappy first draft , or throw it away and rewrite it. Odds are that the next draft will be snappier, more congruent and with less “chatter and comments” from your fear based voices. A clear strong decision is a sure killer for fear – which loves to feed on hesitancy and uncertainty.
In conjunction to writing your crappy first drafts, be kind to yourself, avoid negative self talk and surround yourself with positive people and attitude similar to that which you wish to emulate. Stop comparing your writing with others, show your writing to others and ask for feedback and practice writing in other mediums and genres.
By practicing self acceptance you are no longer afraid of expressing yourself or failing and giving yourself permission to try something new.  You are making a statement to yourself and to others that you are not afraid of what others think about you.
It is not what you do once in a while that counts, but its your habitual actions. Make writing every day a habit – even if it’s a few lines. When you avoid the things you fear, your fears grow until they begin to control every aspect of your life. And as your fears increase, your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and your self-respect diminish accordingly.  If your fear has topped paralysis level, then expect it to take some time to regain your balance and confidence in your words and writing voice. But you need to start now with baby steps.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” I believe he was saying that the emotion of fear, rather than the reality of what we fear, is the cause of the associated anxiety and stress. It is the False Expectations Appearing Real, the dark demons of our minds which play out events far worse than reality could ever dish out, that stops us being overwhelming successes.

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Annie Evett is chasing those False Expectations away and trying to remain calm before the next big collaborative writing project – Choose Your Online Adventure launches. .. stalk Annies shameless self promotions here on Twitter  or here on Audio Boo and start your escape into her world here
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  1. August 25, 2010 6:58 pm

    One of my fears, generalised to everything that I do, is being seen as an imposter. I can’t talk the talk well enough to be seen as a serious writer/academic/artist/whatever. I actually came up against this one last night, when a writer expressed disbelief that I didn’t know what a particular writing device was (I had explained I was a newbie to fiction). I felt pretty defensive at first and then I realised her comment is more about her, than about me. Everyone has to start somewhere. So instead of now plunging into theory about writing, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, writing, to learn as I go. Nothing will make a theoryhead procrastinate more than telling them they don’t know enough of the theory! I do worry that the criticism will be too much for me, but if I could handle it in the academic world I can surely learn to accept it in the creative world!

  2. August 26, 2010 7:48 am

    How timely. I just was thinking about how much I push away my aspiration based on the fear of judgement from others. Not so much fear of them judging my work but moreso the fear that people will find fiction writing a pretentious or flippant past time. Literature has the stigma of boring, forced effort and I feel like that stigma passes over onto its creators. I frequently get asked if I’ve watched such and such program on TV and, when I tell them I don’t watch much TV, have to account for my time otherwise. I always tell them I’ve been reading, never that I’ve been writing. The first is odd enough to most people, the second might be considered insane.

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