If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me if I do? You’re a human being with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle.
― Richard Rhodes
The fear of not being good enough wears many masks. They are: procrastination, confusion, lack of time, lack of knowledge and endless self-criticism. Those are the more common ones. There are many other ways it hides out, and you recognize them through the fact the writing isn’t getting done.
In an earlier blog post I wrote called The Only Obstacle is Our Mindset, I talk about how everything is simply an excuse our mind uses to not do the work. Awareness can help us recognize when we’re sabotaging ourselves.
There are times when you may truly not know what to do, but you can find your answers and keep writing. If you don’t try to figure it out or get help, your confusion is really masking fear. If you gain the knowledge you need to keep going, but find yourself coming up with other reasons you can’t get the writing done, fear is at the root.
So how do you write through the fear and get the writing done?
Become aware of and accept the fear
Look behind the masks and recognize what’s really going on. Accept the fear if it’s really there. Don’t make excuses. It’s okay to be afraid. Many of us have this fear of not being good enough. Take a deep breath and let it be.
Get to know your thoughts and feelings about writing
What does this fear of not being good enough to write feel like? Where is it in your body? This will help you recognize it when it’s wearing other masks.
What are your thoughts about it? Our thoughts feed our feelings. Some are probably the ones mentioned in the quote above. Also ask: Have I assigned more importance to the work than needed at this stage? Do I think about all the steps at once or over analyze each step?
Take all these thoughts and ask if they’re true. Then ask if there is something you can do about it if they are. Then do something. Taking action can alleviate fear.
Now how do you want to feel about writing? I know I want to feel excited and joyful about playing with words. So I think about that. What thoughts can help elicit the feelings you would like to have instead of fear?
Write about your fear
Tell its story based on what you learned in the above exercise. How does it feel? When does it tend to show up? Do you remember when it first started?
By writing about it, especially when you are experiencing it, you get some distance which allows you to gain insight. The distance will also help with the next step.
Sit down and write
You probably won’t get your butt in your chair before the fear starts contorting your mind to create one excuse or another. That’s okay. Fear is just being fear. You don’t have to listen unless there is a real threat.
Take a moment to think the thoughts that make you feel good about writing. Once you feel good, start writing. What really helps before you do this is to know exactly what you’re going to work on. You want to keep the momentum going.
Rewards and celebration
If you sit down and write, celebrate it. Find ways to create more joy.
You can also promise yourself a reward for meeting your writing goal. This can help at first, but try not to rely on it. Once the fear dissipates some and you’ve been writing for a while, the reward begins to come from the joy of the work itself and doing a good job. Over time you will improve and you’ll see you are good enough.
If you still find yourself avoiding the work, talk to someone about it. Our old patterns of being hard on ourselves can take a while to break through. But if I can write through the fear, I know you can, too.
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