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My fear of writing and how I overcame it
10-14-2013, 06:35 PM
Post: #1
My fear of writing and how I overcame it
Looking back I now realise that what I thought was procrastination and writer’s block was my fear of writing. Until recently, I’d never discussed it with anyone. I was ashamed, it was my secret.

A few weeks ago, I went to a writer’s workshop, by Margaret Simons, a well-known writer and journalist. It was good. I thought I’d be learning tips and techniques for writing narrative into non-fiction. Yes, I did learn some, but what I really learned about was my fear of writing and all the different ways that it had manifested in me over the years. What a waste. I’d had so many stories inside me. Fear and anxiety had smuggled them away.

In the workshop we talked about our creative spirit and how to acknowledge it, nurture and support it. I went away with a solid sense of myself as a writer. I also discovered that my fears were normal, and they would always nudge themselves into my consciousness. I have become intrigued with the fear of writing. I’ll tell you what I’ve discovered from talking to writers and browsing books and blogs.

Firstly, my fears are NOT graphophobia. Well that’s a relief! But what is it, so you can check to see if you are not one of them. Graphophobia is an overwhelming, irrational fear of writing, to the point that it hinders and reduces one’s daily living. Like any sort of phobia.

OK, fear of writing then is just a normal fear, right?! But fear of writing is sneaky. For years I didn’t recognise it for what it was. The fear of writing shows up in disguise. These are all the manifestations of the fear of writing, recognise any of them?

• Nobody wants to read what I write.
• I am not a good writer. I’m just not good enough.
• I don’t have time to write.
• English isn’t my first language.
• I don’t know what to write about.
• I’m afraid of what people will say about what I’ve written.
• I have this irrational fear of being published.
• I fear being judged.
• My writing will be rejected.
• I feel afraid that I’m might be a failure.
• I feel afraid that I’m might be a success.
• I don’t like exposing myself.
• I’ve only got one book inside me.
• I’m too old to write.
• I don’t know how to research.
… and the list goes on …

I like what Stephen King says from his book ‘On Writing’.
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

So now, what did my sage writers say about managing their fears? Those writers like me were a little hesitant to admit it at first. Then it all came tumbling out. How the fear had engulfed them, stopped them and how they had given up at times. We ruminated over those who told wonderful stories, but never wrote them down. Were they one of the fearful ones? Were we?

The experienced writers didn’t know what I was talking about. Some even said I don’t like writing, I’m just driven to do it. And then as we talked more they realised that over the years they had put structure into their writing space. It was something they just did without thinking. They were familiar with the fear, and were not afraid of it. They just managed it like a habit, with a routine or a ritual. They accepted it as part of their writing life.

These were some of the routines and rituals that they put in place to move and transition themselves into the writing space. None of them are in any particular order, only as they were described.

• As I’m driving I’m thinking about my writing. I can’t write it down, so by the time I can get somewhere to write it, I just can’t stop myself. I have to write it down, and then I keep on writing.
• I do some quiet reading first on the topic. See what others have written. That eases me into my writing.
• I set myself a goal. It can be a time or a writing goal. I just say to myself that I’m going to ….. whatever it is by the end of today.
• I set myself a maximum of four hours for my writing in any one day. It’s tiring work and longer than that I’ll be exhausted for the next day. Just knowing its only four hours is also a relief. I don’t have to do it all day. That helps me do it in the first place.
• I set myself a minimum of 30 minutes. Often I keep writing after that.
• I start on the document or story at the easiest place. Whatever takes my fancy? That gets my juices flowing and I keep writing.
• I do a little quiet deep breathing and tell myself “you can do this!” and then begin to write.
• I set myself a goal for my next writing time. That way I know where I am up to, and where I left off. Also, what I’m going to do next.
• I ‘fiddle’. Muck about. Look out the window. Make a cup of tea. All the while knowing that I’m going to write soon. It’s my warm up act.
• I finish my writing by tidying up my desk. I start my writing by tidying up or cleaning my desk. That’s my ritual.
• It’s hard work, so I feel good at the end of it. I remember that feeling at the start of my writing.
• I don’t think about finishing I think about starting. Just write, get started, doesn’t matter how I feel.
• Writing is a job for me. I start at about 9am and finish by about 5pm. I don’t write during all that time, it’s the time I’ve allocated to write. I just do it.

The paradox of discovering my fear of writing is that I’m writing more. I’ve acknowledged that writing isn’t easy, it’s hard work. It’s OK to feel tired after a day of writing. I don’t have to like it. All I have to do is to turn up and write. And, the more I write, the more I learn about writing and myself.
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11-26-2013, 02:12 PM
Post: #2
RE: My fear of writing and how I overcame it
(10-14-2013 06:35 PM)pgoward Wrote:  Looking back I now realise that what I thought was procrastination and writer’s block was my fear of writing. Until recently, I’d never discussed it with anyone. I was ashamed, it was my secret.

A few weeks ago, I went to a writer’s workshop, by Margaret Simons, a well-known writer and journalist. It was good. I thought I’d be learning tips and techniques for writing narrative into non-fiction. Yes, I did learn some, but what I really learned about was my fear of writing and all the different ways that it had manifested in me over the years. What a waste. I’d had so many stories inside me. Fear and anxiety had smuggled them away.

In the workshop we talked about our creative spirit and how to acknowledge it, nurture and support it. I went away with a solid sense of myself as a writer. I also discovered that my fears were normal, and they would always nudge themselves into my consciousness. I have become intrigued with the fear of writing. I’ll tell you what I’ve discovered from talking to writers and browsing books and blogs.

Firstly, my fears are NOT graphophobia. Well that’s a relief! But what is it, so you can check to see if you are not one of them. Graphophobia is an overwhelming, irrational fear of writing, to the point that it hinders and reduces one’s daily living. Like any sort of phobia.

OK, fear of writing then is just a normal fear, right?! But fear of writing is sneaky. For years I didn’t recognise it for what it was. The fear of writing shows up in disguise. These are all the manifestations of the fear of writing, recognise any of them?

• Nobody wants to read what I write.
• I am not a good writer. I’m just not good enough.
• I don’t have time to write.
• English isn’t my first language.
• I don’t know what to write about.
• I’m afraid of what people will say about what I’ve written.
• I have this irrational fear of being published.
• I fear being judged.
• My writing will be rejected.
• I feel afraid that I’m might be a failure.
• I feel afraid that I’m might be a success.
• I don’t like exposing myself.
• I’ve only got one book inside me.
• I’m too old to write.
• I don’t know how to research.
… and the list goes on …

I like what Stephen King says from his book ‘On Writing’.
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

So now, what did my sage writers say about managing their fears? Those writers like me were a little hesitant to admit it at first. Then it all came tumbling out. How the fear had engulfed them, stopped them and how they had given up at times. We ruminated over those who told wonderful stories, but never wrote them down. Were they one of the fearful ones? Were we?

The experienced writers didn’t know what I was talking about. Some even said I don’t like writing, I’m just driven to do it. And then as we talked more they realised that over the years they had put structure into their writing space. It was something they just did without thinking. They were familiar with the fear, and were not afraid of it. They just managed it like a habit, with a routine or a ritual. They accepted it as part of their writing life.

These were some of the routines and rituals that they put in place to move and transition themselves into the writing space. None of them are in any particular order, only as they were described.

• As I’m driving I’m thinking about my writing. I can’t write it down, so by the time I can get somewhere to write it, I just can’t stop myself. I have to write it down, and then I keep on writing.
• I do some quiet reading first on the topic. See what others have written. That eases me into my writing.
• I set myself a goal. It can be a time or a writing goal. I just say to myself that I’m going to ….. whatever it is by the end of today.
• I set myself a maximum of four hours for my writing in any one day. It’s tiring work and longer than that I’ll be exhausted for the next day. Just knowing its only four hours is also a relief. I don’t have to do it all day. That helps me do it in the first place.
• I set myself a minimum of 30 minutes. Often I keep writing after that.
• I start on the document or story at the easiest place. Whatever takes my fancy? That gets my juices flowing and I keep writing.
• I do a little quiet deep breathing and tell myself “you can do this!” and then begin to write.
• I set myself a goal for my next writing time. That way I know where I am up to, and where I left off. Also, what I’m going to do next.
• I ‘fiddle’. Muck about. Look out the window. Make a cup of tea. All the while knowing that I’m going to write soon. It’s my warm up act.
• I finish my writing by tidying up my desk. I start my writing by tidying up or cleaning my desk. That’s my ritual.
• It’s hard work, so I feel good at the end of it. I remember that feeling at the start of my writing.
• I don’t think about finishing I think about starting. Just write, get started, doesn’t matter how I feel.
• Writing is a job for me. I start at about 9am and finish by about 5pm. I don’t write during all that time, it’s the time I’ve allocated to write. I just do it.

The paradox of discovering my fear of writing is that I’m writing more. I’ve acknowledged that writing isn’t easy, it’s hard work. It’s OK to feel tired after a day of writing. I don’t have to like it. All I have to do is to turn up and write. And, the more I write, the more I learn about writing and myself.

There are so many valuable things here, I think I need to print this out and stick it above my desk- thank you for sharing a wonderful resource. Just one to add- sometimes when it is hard to start a piece of writing, it is great to write an email to a supportive friend in which you set out to explain why this piece is so hard to write. It's amazing how that can free you up to then go on and tackle the "real" thing.

What works for other people?
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