“Why does this business writing class have to be so long?” the man asked as he entered the classroom. I was welcoming him to a mandatory training to help supervisors/managers improve their documentation skills. As I began to ask questions, I listened carefully to his words and demeanor. Before long he confessed that he was very nervous about his writing skills because this was one of his weak areas. Fortunately, by the end of the training session he was equipped with tools to overcome these barriers. For many people, the fear of writing ranks right up there with their fear of public speaking. Many of us experience writer’s block and postpone writing as long as possible. This blog explores three ways to face and beat the fear of writing.
Fear of failing.
For many of us, the fear of writing was instilled in school. I know I’ve cringed at all the red ink on the assignments I turned in. It made me want to just throw my hands up in despair. One of my daughters, spent the summer before going into high school writing stories and poems. It was a joy to see her give place to creative expression. Something happened early on in her English class. She had a teacher that was a harsh critic of every assignment she turned in. She came close to failing that class and I stepped in to help with the dreaded term paper so she wouldn’t fail the class. It was like the light had dimmed. She felt that there was no reason to even try because she could not succeed. There is something final about printed words and the way others can judge them.
The best way to overcome past writing failures is to follow the old adage: “You have to get back on the horse that threw you.” Set aside the first few minutes of the day to write something. Turn off your inner critic and get it down on paper (or in the computer). There are many opportunities to start small by writing a blog or posting encouraging comments about what others have written. Join a writing club where others can give you feedback. Remember that writing is a skill not a dreaded assignment. When you run into those who criticize what you’ve written, check to see if there is merit to their advice. Adapt and move on. You’ll improve as you keep writing and learning.
Fear of making decisions.
I consider myself a creative person. That should make writing easier but it does not because my mind gets overloaded with the ways I could spin a topic. Have you ever noticed how much work goes into deciding what you are going to write about? It is the very nature of the way your mind works and all the connections you make as you begin to speculate on topics to write about. This decision-making process is what makes writing so challenging and tiring. Another term for this is decision fatigue.
Mind-mapping is a wonderful tool to help you record your ideas on paper before making the commitment of writing the actual words. Our minds work in a broad, circular fashion as we freely associate seemingly unrelated thoughts. The writing process takes a more linear approach. Keep a running list of topics that relate to your blog theme. When inspiration strikes write it down. Ideas for topics surround you. Also, here’s a link to a previous post that might help: Finding Topics.
Fear of making mistakes.
This hurdle is closely tied to both of the topics already mentioned in this blog. The technical mistakes can create major hurdles in setting up a blog. Ask for help if you need it and continue to keep writing because once you start, you will want to establish a consistent schedule. Everyone makes mistakes so set aside your perfectionism and get going.
When you experience writer’s block, start typing something else to get the flow going. I like to start typing a quote about the topic I want to develop. Another tool I use is to look up key words in the Thesaurus. I write them down and that gets the creative juices going. The greatest hope antidote for the fear of making mistakes is to give yourself permission to make them and correct them as quickly as you can. In fact, I’ve made 7 mistakes already and so I know I’m making progress. Also, one of the wonderful things about a blog is that as soon as you spot that typo, you can go in and correct it immediately.
What other tips do you have for beating the fear of writing? What works for you?
Karen Sebastian is a serial entrepreneur who wants to help you succeed in your business. Subscribe to this blog for more inspiration on how to become a HOPEpreneur. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to book her as a speaker or want one-on-one coaching