If the fear of writing is getting you down, it’s time for some basic preparations that will crush this nasty nemesis and fortress your efforts.
How do you build your zone of protection?
You create these two habits that are consistently suggested by successful writers:
- write daily for at least 15 minutes;
- set up a space where you can think well enough to write.
Have you set aside time to write each day?
Or do you find something else to do instead?
If you do, you’re in good company. Author Zoe Fairbairns, in her book, Write Short Stories- and get them published, suggests it’s a condition of writers to come up with reasons for why they can’t find time to write.
Mostly, they stall out of fear, and the reasons are many.
How about a place?
Do you worry so much about where other people write that it makes you think your choice is wrong? You’re not alone.
As for me making excuses—guilty. I have many, and these are just a few.
- I’ve got to check my email.
- I’ve got to finish editing the 3rd section in this book.
- Gosh, the laundry is piling up. Time to start a load.
- Where does the time go? I still have to water my plants.
- Isn’t that seminar today?
What pushes these excuses? Who is the little imp behind the curtain that keeps me from jumping in and just doing it?
- My fear of what others think—that I won’t write well enough—embarrassing myself
- Self-doubt—who am I to think I’m a writer—that a write well—that anyone will want to read what I write
- Fear of myself—I don’t know if I can share that—this is too hard to talk about
- Fear of working hard and not producing a story interesting enough to read
My plight is ironic because I’ve always jumped into things I’m interested in doing and learned them along the way. So why is it so hard for me to do this with writing?
It’s me playing mind games with myself.
And fear is the one thing that will disrupt your effort, too, unless you decide to just go for it, like I finally did, and make writing a part of your life.
- You can also read Mastering Fear: Harnessing Emotion to Achieve Excellence in Work, Health and Relationships to understand how to overcome this stifling menace. It’s helping me maintain my new-found courage.
Setting a time and place to write each day where you feel safe from outside pressure provides a stronghold against criticism and self-doubt.
Setting Your Daily Writing Time
I’m better at being deliberate or intentional about my writing time. For me, it becomes a meditation, and it calms me. I think of it as exercise for my mind.
What my daily calisthenics do for my body, writing does for my thinking, and I feel healthier when I’ve made both a part of my daily routine. I also feel more confident I can conquer my fears.
I know the word routine suggests boredom, and nothing kills creativity more than boredom. Yet, writing every day, though repetitive, enables the physical function and mental clarity you need to beat back the beast of fear and reach a level of thought where you inspire yourself and produce something beautiful enough to inspire others.
Before you set a time to write, answer these questions:
- Why do you want to write?
- Do you enjoy doing it? What do you like about it?
- Is there something you don’t like about it?
- What gets in the way of you starting?
Some writers don’t like the act of writing but love communicating stories. Others don’t want to be stuck to the confines of a schedule. Does either description fit how you feel? If so, think about why.
Then do these things activities:
- Brainstorm a list of obstacles that get in the way of you becoming the kind of writer you want to be.
- Identify which ones you’ve put on yourself and which ones you have no control over. Then cross off those you can’t change.
- Circle the top five obstacles on your list with fear at their core.
- Notice which ones influence you most, and number them from 1 to 5 with 1 as the most influential 5 as the least influential.
- Start with your #1 strongest fear, and write three ways you’re going to face it, and then go for it.
Reflect on your progress:
- Face one fear a week, and reflect on how you feel about its hold on you at the end of each week.
- When the five weeks are up, ask yourself if these fears are gone, or if their hold has been significantly weakened.
- Write about what worked for you, what didn’t and why, rethink new strategies to try if you think you need to, or just move on.
Chances are you will have better control of your fears after you have finished these activities than when you first started. You may also have found your best time to write.
Choosing Your Perfect Writing Space
Push your fears away by adding one more thing to your writing routine—a place where you feel comfortable. To get ideas for how to do it, you can read about it and ask other writers how they do it.
- Make sure you notice as you learn how writers tailor their spaces to fit their individual personalities. That’s the kind of writing space you want for yourself.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a favorite place to write?
- If you do, look around it. Does it still fit your style? If not, go ahead and change it.
My writing room is in my living room. It’s open and airy, and I’m surrounded by art my mother painted, pictures of family, and all of the things I deeply love. And it’s quiet, so I can think.
I tried using my computer room as a writing space, but it didn’t work for me. The confines of the space nurtured my fears more than my creative spirit. I felt cramped, and by default, so did my mind.
The key for you is to find a space that is quiet and free from distractions, and one that inspires you to write. Then, combine it with a time that works for you.
Most fears of writing face annihilation in this context.
This post is contributed as Guest post by Sheri Rose.
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