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You're a Writer: How to overcome fear

It's scary to put your work out into the world. Don't worry, you've got this.

I know brilliant writers who have been frozen by fear. There is no amount of convincing, cajoling, begging or bribing that will get them to move forward and hit the publish button. I also know writers who hold their breath and let it go, trusting their words will find their way to someone who needs to hear them. Maybe there were a few mistakes, a few missteps, a little messiness, but in the end - they did it. What a feeling.

How can I overcome fear when it comes to writing?

“The trick to impacting people with your writing is to hit "publish" even when you're terrified. There is someone out there who needs to read what you have written, but they will miss out until you believe in it.”

I admit I don't have the "fearless" thing down when it comes to writing. I worry and fret, but in the end I have to be true to the craft. The world needs your words. We need your story. Don't let fear have the final vote.

My best advice for overcoming fear

One of the most popular reasons clients give me for not starting a first draft is FEAR. I admit it can be scary to write something, knowing you may someday launch it into the world for everyone to read. It feels super risky to spend months or even years working on your book, only to have a faceless troll pick it apart.

If you're still reading, that means you have something deep inside telling you to write. Listen to that voice!

It is actually possible to power through your fears and excuses and make it through to the next stage of becoming a published author. But first you have to start writing.

Here are my top five tips for overcoming fear and excuses:

Strengthen your headspace. The truth is, it's totally normal to have fears and insecurities about your writing. You may fear missing deadlines, or you may be afraid you aren't good enough at grammar. You might be terrified that people will believe you "think to much" of yourself. "Who do you think you are?" can be a terrifying question, right? Many of us feel like at any moment the world will discover we are a fraud. JUST STOP. Get out of your own head. The best way to move past those voices is to strengthen your headspace. Wake up each morning and tell yourself that you are a writer. Listen to writing podcasts, cover your mirror with sticky note quotes from your favorite writers, and keep your self-talk positive. Give a few friends permission to remind you that you are a writer when you're feeling weak and discouraged. Change the profession on your social media accounts to "writer." Don't let fear have a vote in whether or not you write today. Every writer, even the most successful ones, struggle with fear. You are in good company, my friend! Just write.

Have a plan. Take an overall view of the book you are writing. Try narrowing your writing goals into several bite-sized chunks. Make a daily or weekly word count goal. Schedule a weekend away to finish your outline or the first three chapters. Your plan will depend on your project and your schedule, but having a healthy plan to complete it is best. Create a plan, adjust it if you must, but do your best to follow it. This will help when you feel afraid or you are tempted to procrastinate.

Get out. It may seem weird, but spending a little time on other activities may feed your creativity. Take a long hike in nature, take an afternoon road trip, or spend the morning painting. Go listen to live music, read a book on your front porch, or spend some time planting flowers. Take a class and learn something new. Whatever fuels you in other ways can help your creativity and fuel you to work your plan. Don't ever feel like every spare minute needs to be spent in front of your computer.

Name it. If you find yourself in a state of constant fear and doubt, sit down and write about it. List all of the things you're afraid of. Write your worst case scenarios. When you're finished, put the list in a drawer and go do something else. The next day, or the next week, come back and look at your list. It most likely won't seem so bad. Many times I am afraid of something, but it sounds much worse in my head. When I step back and really take a look at what I'm afraid of, I realize it isn't so scary. You can also ask a friend, or hire a writing coach or a life coach to help you gain some perspective. Naming our fears can help us strategize and be prepared for most scary things that might pop up.

Practice. What? You mean to write a book I actually have to write?! Ha! Listen, friend. The best and strongest advice in overcoming fear and finishing a first draft is to write. If you can't make writing a priority and dedicate time to practice your craft, you will never finish. The more you practice, the more you will see that you ARE a writer. The more you practice, the better you will become. The more you practice, the better you will be at writing in spite of the fear. You can do this! NOW GO WRITE SOMETHING!



Photo: Gabriel Ramirez

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I'm so glad you're here. 

Happy writing!

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