The Writer’s Fear of Writing: Moving Past It

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Writers are self-doubting people. Many of us revolt against ourselves and strike fear into our own hearts. We are, after all, our own worst critics.

The fact of the matter is, you don’t know whether or not your fears will come true, or if you will succeed. It’s a dark reality, but it’s there. So, here is the question you have to ask yourself: Is my fear helping me progress toward my goal? Probably not, but there are ways of harnessing that fear or living with it to move on with your life as a writer. In my experience, there are two types of fear in writing. There’s fear that stops you from writing and there’s fear that pushes you to write.

The kind of fear that kills books before they see the world is a disease for writers. It stops them from doing what their hearts are telling them to do. This is the fear that whispers in your ear, just as you feel like putting pen to paper, and tells you that you’ll never be published, you’ll never be a skilled writer, no one likes your writing, blah blah and so on.

I’m not pretending I have the answers for this problem. I still fall prey to this fear often. But, I can tell you what helps me when I feel the fear bearing down on me and I’m unable to write. Here it is, my secret, the two words that contain within them the power to move on and be the writer you want to be. Say them with me… “Screw it.”

Do it anyway. Write, despite the fear. Or, because of it. Think about this equation: If you don’t write because you’re afraid of what will happen, of what won’t happen, of what people will say—you’ll have nothing by the end of it.

But, if you have fear in you and you write anyway, despite the negative possibilities, you’ll have something by the end of it. If you want to be a writer, there’s only one way to do it. Write.

Ask yourself who you’re writing for and why you’re writing. Writers who write for fame, for success among their peers, to be the next great author—these are the ones who have the most fear.

Write for yourself. You can keep in mind the audience you’re writing for, but don’t let them dictate what happens with you put ink on the page.

Enjoy writing. Or, at the very least, enjoy having written. Fear comes from thinking too much about the consequences instead of relishing the experience.

“I don’t believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously.”

-Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451

If you want to be a writer, write. If you can’t write because of fear, try not to take this so seriously. After all, you’re doing this for you—to be the best version of yourself you can imagine. Don’t let fear stop you from what you feel you should do and never, never stop writing.

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About Author

John Paul Schmidt is a former news journalist. Now he's a freelancer by day and bartender by night while he works on his novel.

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