Overcome Writing Fear

Lady with hands under chin,
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Have you ever suffered from conflicting emotions about writing? You want to write, but fear it too.

Does this sound familiar? I have a desire and need to write, deep down in my gut. Even when I’m not actively writing, I’m constantly studying and thinking about it. My shelves are full of writing books that have provided education and inspiration. And I follow several blogs, consuming as much information about writing as possible.

As someone who gets lots of ideas, I have lists of stories I want to write, and a handful that need editing. I’ve managed to finish a couple. However, the majority of them are floating around in my head because I have a hard time getting them down on paper.

Why is this? I used to think it was because I didn’t have enough time. I now realize it’s because of writing fear.

What is there to fear about writing?

Everything. The most common fear you hear about is whether or not our writing is any good. We all have these internal editors that play mind games with our self-doubt. But if we only concentrate on that one fear, we are letting a whole lot of others run wild.

Let’s say I overcome my worry about whether or not my writing is any good. Now, these fears show up.

  • Grammar mistakes. I know my work will have grammar mistakes. Will my readers laugh at these? Will it undermine all of my writing?
  • Is it offensive? My stories will sometimes be dark. And I plan to write about different types of people, different from me. Because of this, I may accidentally stereotype someone in a way I didn’t realize was hurtful, which is not my intention.
  • Does it look like I’m advocating for something I’m not? I also showcase different points of view in order to have well-rounded characters and be realistic. This provokes good dialogue and causes tension, something every good book needs.
  • Will someone infer a meaning that’s not there? don’t want to be called out for someone’s misunderstanding of my work.
  • Will there be trolls? I worked in customer service before smartphones and Facebook. People were nasty then and have just gotten nastier. So, I’m pretty sure there will be trolls.
  • What will my family think? On the one hand, they are very encouraging. But on the other, they’ve only read my more normal stuff. They’re a bit Conservative, so yes, I worry about this. I mean, there is cussing in my stories. And Vampires and democrats. Oh my.

How do we overcome writing fear?

To be honest, I’m still working this out. Acknowledging these fears has helped. I’m able to come up with reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing and plan how to deal with these when they come up.

  • Grammar mistakes. It happens to everyone. My plan is to edit and have beta readers. And to remind myself, there isn’t such a thing as perfect here on earth.
  • Is it offensive? This is only slightly in my control. People take offense to all kinds of things. I cannot be responsible for all of them. My plan is to write with good intentions. And to keep up with, and be open to, valid criticisms and to do better next time.
  • Does it look like I’m advocating for something I’m not? I can’t help it if someone reads into it something that’s not there. My plan is to edit for clarity as much as possible. I’m also planning to write blog posts that will explain my works.
  • Will someone infer a meaning that’s not there? This is what art is about. People take their own realities and use that to find meaning in the piece. Totally out of my control. I’m letting this one go.
  • Will there be trolls? Yes. And I won’t feed them.
  • What will my family think? This is really the one I struggle with the most. I can’t please everyone. However, most fears have a purpose. I plan to proceed with caution, question my motives and my themes, but I will proceed. Just like with other points, I have no control over what they might think. I can just control myself. If I’m right with the Lord, then that’s all that matters.

It all comes down to courage

Putting ourselves out there in the world is scary. Writing comes with a risk. The ultimate question is: Is your writing important enough that you are willing to face and overcome your fears in order to produce it?

If we cannot justify and believe in what we’re doing, then why do it? But if we can, then don’t we owe it to ourselves to do the work? Yes we do. So, let’s sit down and do this thing.

Here are links to reading I’ve been doing. There is good inspiration here.

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