Fear and the writer

Many people assume that a blank page is a writer’s worst nightmare. They think, regardless if the writer is a novice or expert, that starting is the single most difficult thing any writer faces.

They are wrong.

Starting is definitely tough, but finishing, and opening yourself up to possible readers and criticism, is far harder. It takes far more courage to write about your company, experiences or personal life than most people will admit, but hitting publish takes the most guts of all. Here are some tips in overcoming that fear:

Life’s too short to worry about fear. Image by Hugh MacLeod

1. Separate yourself from what you write
Many “serious” writers define themselves by what they write. They take criticism personally, because their writing is so personal. Professionals, or those who want to be seen as such, don’t do this. They write, they edit, the publish, they accept criticism and they do better next time.

2. Write and forget
As nervous and desperate for attention as you may be, most readers are going to be satisfied with honest, authentic stories told from a personal perspective. Sure, you’ll make mistakes, but dwelling on one particular piece, especially yesterday’s, is a waste of your time.

3. Clear the distractions
Starting a blog isn’t about tweaking the template to get the design just write, pouring over lines of code to edit the css or buying some super-expensive, fancy theme with SEO guarantees in mind. Starting a blog is about writing (or filming or recording) and publishing your work. Solutions like Pagely make that super easy.

4. Write, then record, then review
Plenty of writers read their work. Plenty of writers read their work aloud, sometimes to other people. Not many writers record themselves reading aloud and then play it back. We’re often really good at solving other people’s problems, so by separating our writing from ourselves, we can get a bit of an outsider’s perspective. Oh, if you’re funny, post that stuff. People will love it.

5. Accept that you’ll get better
Like any good physical fitness program, writing may be a bit uncomfortable at first, even painful. But, like the more you work out, the better you’ll get at whatever you’re doing. Don’t let the fear of some minor pain (totally in your head, by the way) get in the way of some potentially great stories.

(Guest blogger Tyler Hurst wears Vibrams. Only Vibrams.)

1 Comment

  1. Geoff Snyder
    Geoff Snyder


    Great post and thanks for calling me out on #3. Guilty!

    Blogging on my own for a little over a year now, I’ve found myself putting a lot of attention to the ‘backend’ of my blog. It’s important to me that my readers’ experience is pleasant, and having the piece of mind that the blog itself is search engine friendly. Hence, the constant tweaking.

    Somebody recently suggested using multiple platforms to appease different types of writing. I think I am going to start doing that today.

    Thanks again.