Ever feel afraid to put your writing out there?
I’ve talked to writers who can’t muster the courage to press ‘send’ on posts to their own blog. The idea of sending out an article to a magazine or publishing an ebook makes their knees quake.
Recently, I got into an interesting conversation about overcoming writer fears and writing with confidence. It shed new light on what’s really going on inside us when we feel scared to write.
You might think you’re feeling afraid, but it might really be something a bit different. Once you become aware of what is bothering you, that knowledge could give you the courage to move forward and write with confidence.
This insight came in talking with women’s business coach Tara Sophia Mohr. Tara pointed out that there’s more than one kind of fear.
In Hebrew, they even give it two words.
Fear: What’s really going on?
Pachad in Hebrew is the word for fear. Terror. The kind of gut-clenching anxiety that freezes you in your tracks. This is danger; fight-or-flight fear.
This is the primal fear we have that a large animal is about to eat us or an earthquake is about to bury us.
Sometimes, we experience this sort of fear when we write, even though we’re not really in any physical danger. But we feel the same visceral dread.
If you’re feeling this pachad kind of dread, recognize that this is a vestigial fear you have from our caveman days.
Such fear is inappropriate to the act of writing. Typically, your life is not at risk when you publish your writing.
With this kind of fear, try to gain perspective. Even if you mess up with your writing, in all likelihood you will survive.
Or, as I used to say when I had stage fright right before I went onstage as a singer/songwriter: No matter what happens tonight, a billion people could care less.
You’re not a caveman trying to outrun a lion. It’s just words on a page (or pixels on a screen).
So relax. Pick up your pen and go for it.
The other feeling you mistake for fear
There’s another feeling that’s close to fear, but different. In Hebrew, it’s yirah. This is more like fear-struck awe.
It’s what we feel when we suddenly inhabit a space larger than we’re used to, Mohr says. It’s the feeling we get as we stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Amazement and an expansion of our sense of possibility…with a little fear mixed in.
This may be what you’re feeling when you hold back from pressing that “send” button.
You’ve caught a glimmer of the astonishing potential your writing has – to change both your life and the lives of others.
And that can freak you out, and stop you dead.
Think of how a best-selling novel or smash-hit blog can completely transform the life of its author. They might skyrocket from poverty to incredible wealth.
Writing can end a war, or start one. The pen – or computer keyboard – can be a mighty weapon.
As you write, you may feel the incredible power you have at your fingertips. The power to change everything.
If you dread change, this can be a problem.
Maybe you find new experiences overwhelming. I’ve met almost as many writers who fear success as I have those who fear failure.
But the drive you have to write is calling you to tell the world what you must. So find a way to start on your journey. Start small, if you need to.
Keep that sense of wonder and awe. It will serve you well in respecting your readers.
But don’t let it stop you. Begin to tell your story. Write and rewrite with confidence. Send it out there. See what happens.
Name your fear
If you’re holding back in your writing, try to get in touch with your feelings. Identify precisely what sort of fear you are experiencing.
Is it a primal fear that’s inappropriate here? Acknowledge it – then, dismiss it. Laugh about it, if you can.
Or do you stand in awe of the power you hold? If so, take a moment to marvel at your limitless potential.
Then, begin your journey. There’s nothing else for writers to do.
Step over the edge of that canyon and fly.
What’s preventing you from writing with confidence? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
About the author:
Carol Tice writes the Make a Living Writing blog, one of this year’s Top 10 Blogs for Writers winners. Subscribers receive the free 21-week e-course, Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers.