Overcoming Your Writing Fear

Writing can absolutely suck. It can be difficult to accomplish. And it can take up hours of your time. But only if you let it.

I have a deeply held belief that everyone can write, and anyone who wants to can even write well—with little effort.

Obviously, this statement is not good for my business, but it’s the truth:

You are a great writer, and a brilliant stream of words is available to you at any time; if you just surrender to be-ing.

This leads me to my first point…

Remember your nature

Writing and communicating are in your nature.

Human beings, or more accurately Homo Sapiens, have been using tangible symbols, like painted shapes, carved-out hieroglyphics, and beautifully written calligraphy, to speak to one another for over 30,000 years.

Over this time period, our goal has always been to tell our story and to share a concrete piece of our existence. Being human means being a communicator, which also means it’s in your nature to write.

So what’s holding you back? I believe it’s the fear of imperfection. And more deeply, the shame of not being good enough.

Your writing fear probably started in school since that’s where we all learned to read and write. You may have struggled with grammar, despised the proposed topics, or felt frustrated by all of the writing rules. I get it. I even felt stifled by the same system.

It took a college professor to help me break through my writing fear, and I hope I can inspire the same change in you. Forget the rules, fudge perfection, and let yourself free in your writing. Don’t let the fear of failing be greater than your fear of not flying.

Use an outline

It’s an age-old suggestion, even one that you learned in school (and probably one of the only tips I still believe in): write out an outline. When you look at a blank document, starting at the beginning is intimidating. But when you start with something, like an outline of your thoughts, you feel self-assured about where you’re going.

Every article I write, whether it’s for me or a client, begins with an outline. It’s as easy as listing out the main points. Then,  start filling in the details under each line. As you continue to write, the piece grows and expands. And before you know it,  you have a full page of content to play with, edit and rework until you’re happy with it.

It’s as simple as this: outlines really work!

Casual is key

In addition to using an outline, another way to banish your writing fear is to let go of expectations. Don’t think about “how I should sound” or “how can I write this to sound impressive” or even “how do I sell this to my reader.” This type of thinking, rationalizing, and overplaying will leak into the tone of your writing and readers will feel it.

Instead, say screw it to your writing expectations and just flow. Let your expertise on the subject shine by opening the floodgates to your consciousness. The fun part about drafting a new piece is that no one has to see it but you.

So for god sake, let your soul come out and make love to the paper. If you don’t like what eventually comes out, you can just as easily start over or adjust it later.

Stop comparing

Have you ever noticed that when you look at what others are writing, you compare it to your own? You may think, “I could never write as conversational as this.” or “She’s so witty and I’m not, so I must suck at writing.”

Here’s what I have to say about comparison: it’s utter bullshit. We create our own shortcomings when we measure our worth based on the creations of others.

Be happy for these people. Recognize that they probably had a writing fear at one point, too. The only difference is they didn’t let it hold them back. And you don’t have to either.

Today, I want you to take a break from reading anything relevant to what you’re writing. For example: If you’re writing a novel, read articles instead. If you’re writing an article, read novels for now.

Soon enough, you’ll notice the self-doubt that’s encouraged by comparison will wither away. And all you’ll be left with is your own brilliant words.

Repetition is key

Like I said before, the only difference between you and a great writer is practice. I mean this isn’t revolutionary or anything. As adults, we know that anything can be accomplished (albeit backflips or Olympic swimming) as long we commit to sustained practice.

If you want to get over your writing fear, you have to keep writing. And if the creation part holds you back, I have the perfect homework for you. I want you to start each day (or at least on days when you start with a computer or journal) by writing at least 500 words or one-to-two pages.

It doesn’t have to be about anything significant or relevant to your writing goals. You just have to begin. Put your fingers to the keys and unleash your writing beast. I promise you’ll find him living just beneath the surface.

Over time, this exercise will help you begin writing faster, crank out content easier and become more confident in your writing ability.

Your turn

Now, it’s up to you. I’ve given you the keys to overcome your writing fear. It’s your responsibility to take them and incorporate them into your writing routine.

Whenever you feel stuck, remember first and foremost that it’s in your nature to write. Second, use an outline and embrace the free, creative nature of writing your thoughts—unfiltered and uninhibited. And finally, know that the only difference between you and a great writer is practice. If you can start here, you can take your writing anywhere.