She's been a guest here before, sharing Tips for Nurturing Our Creativity, and I convinced her to visit again. She's a prolific author and I"m excited to introduce you to, This Shadow. Be sure to read more about it at the end of the post!
Trick or Treat:
5 Ways to Beat Your Writing Fears
by Jerusha Agen @SDGWords
You’ve carved out the time. The house is quiet at last. You’ve been talking about wanting to write, needing to write.
This is your chance.
But you just sit there. Frozen. Then you remember there’s laundry to do, or cleaning the bathroom…
Believe me, you’re not alone. Writing, like so many things in life, can be plagued with fear. When best intentions or brilliant creativity hit the brick wall of fear, we call it writer’s block or other code names.
Most of us know the truth, though. If we could just get rid of those doubts, the dread of the blank page, the conviction we’re going to fail, or the other fears that attack us when we sit down to write, our words would be set free.
My only expertise in this area comes from my propensity to let fear stymie my writing on a regular basis. Out of necessity, I’ve learned these five techniques to turn the scary trick of writing into a real treat:
5 Ways to Beat Your Writing Fears
1. Write Something
I know, I know. You’re thinking, isn’t the problem that I can’t write anything right now?
Well, maybe. But more likely the problem is that you’re afraid you won’t be able to write what you dream in your mind. Or you can’t write what you think you’re supposed to. Maybe you don’t care about your current project, or you care too much. Perhaps you’re psyching yourself out with so many doubts and doomsday predictions for the piece that your creativity no longer has space to breathe.
As Nora Roberts famously said, “You can fix anything but a blank page.” So true. Just make yourself type or scrawl something, even if it’s nonsense. Even if it seems terrible.
Treat every stage of writing your manuscript this way. Each day of writing is a blank page that you need to put words on.
Anything is fixable once you start writing.
2. Be Different
This is a technique that saved me just the other day. I’ve been feeling anxiety and dread about my current manuscript because of spending too much time away from it.
But then I did a writing exercise I hadn’t done in years. I usually don’t do writing exercises these days because it seems like wasted time. My writing time is limited, so I tend to think I should use it only for my publishable projects.
Doing the exercise, though, reminded me of something very important. Writing can be fun. The exercise didn’t matter. I was just doing it along with some teens in a writing club I lead. Just for fun. And it was fun.
The lack of pressure resulted in creativity that overflowed like wine from an uncorked bottle. Ideas and words came easily as I wrote the “unimportant” little story. Yet, those seemingly insignificant bits of writing become vital if we use them to free our creativity from the bindings of our fears.
3. Scare Yourself
If you’re a perfectionist like me, your fear of writing something less than perfect may be what’s holding you back. If you have the courage to try it, this tip can unblock your creativity.
Here’s the scary tip: Write something bad.
Yep. I’m serious. Just thinking about it is frightening, isn’t it?
Take a few deep breaths, get that pulse calmed down. Now reconsider this radical idea. What world-ending event is really going to happen if you write something bad?
I’m preaching to myself when I say that writing something less than perfect the first time is not nearly as earth-shattering as some of us tend to think it is. In fact, it might be the most freeing thing you can do if your fear of writing something less than stellar is keeping you from writing at all.
Give yourself permission to write something bad. Put one ugly word in front of the other. Then you can delete it, burn it, or edit it. But you’ll have loosed the hold that fear of imperfection had on you. And the awful beginning (which probably isn’t nearly as bad as you think) will lead to the good writing.
4. Trick the Expectations
Expectations can be crippling. If you’re a published author, writing each next project can be terrifying if you let yourself think about whether or not your new book is going to meet the expectations of readers or your publisher. If you’re an unpublished author, the expectations of friends and family, or the pressure from yourself to write a book that will capture that elusive contract, can be just as debilitating.
But none of us really knows the future our stories will have. What’s more, we can’t control the responses of others to our work. All we can do is write, and only if we aren’t paralyzed by the pressure of trying to meet imagined expectations. The surest way to fail as a writer is to not write anything.
So pull a trick on those expectations. You can and will meet the great expectation. The only expectation that counts, the true definition of success, is that you fulfill what you are supposed to with your writing.
The expectation you can always fulfill is that you will write. So make that the only expectation that counts and watch your fear of other expectations melt away.
5. Remember the Why
Remind yourself why you’re writing. Why did you choose to become a writer? Why are you writing the specific project that’s giving you trouble?
For me, the reason why I’m writing is God. I believe He’s called me to write, and, therefore, I need to remember that He’s also equipped me to do it. I’m writing because of Him, for Him, and through Him. So all I need to do is sit down and get my fingers moving on the keyboard. He’ll take care of the rest.
When I remember that “why” behind my writing, there’s no reason to fear. God isn’t in the tricking business. He’s provided me with the invaluable treat of getting to create with the Creator. I don’t need to fear I’ll open the gift He’s given me and find a nasty trick instead. Trust Him and enjoy the treat of writing!
What fears hold you back from writing? How have you been able to overcome them? Please share!
She’s famous for her upbeat outlook.
Then the world goes black.
Oriana Sanders is always happy. And why shouldn’t she be? She enjoys a close relationship with God and a purpose-filled career teaching troubled kids. She even has the potential for romance in her sister’s friend, Nicanor, whose dark good looks and brooding manner make him an intriguing project for Oriana.
Oriana’s attempts to reach Nicanor with the joy of the Lord are brought to a halt when a confrontation with her student’s drug-dealing brother ends in tragedy. Facing darkness she has never known, can Oriana learn to forgive the unforgivable and find her way through the shadows to the light?
For more posts on fighting against fear in our everyday lives, visit The Fear Warrior Blog. Jerusha Agen imagines danger around every corner, but knows God is there, too. So naturally, she writes romantic suspense infused with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. With a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting, Jerusha is the author of The Sisters Redeemed Series and The Heart Seekers Series novella collection. Visit Jerusha at www.JerushaAgen.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.