I’ve always been told that I am a good writer. I’ve had professors, bosses, and co-workers say it. Oh, and my parents — do they count?
Still, I’ve always had a great deal of anxiety about writing. I’ve had lots of near misses with deadlines / due dates (both academically and professionally), not because I wasn’t prepared or was unable to do the work, but because I let my mind defeat me.
Experience has taught me a few lessons about how to overcome my uneasiness with putting pen to paper (or, uh, fingers to keys). I hope these tips will help you to figure out how to drown out the nagging voice in your head too.
1. Be prepared
Do your research, interview your contacts, make your mindmaps — do whatever you have to do to prepare yourself to take on the task of writing. Preparing helps you to feel more confident about what you’re producing. You’ll develop an understanding of the goal and come up with a plan for what you want to say and how you want to say it.
2. Take your time
Give yourself plenty of time to complete your writing. If you are up against your deadline / due date, your anxiety level will naturally increase. Use the time well in advance of your deadline / due date to review your work a few times, read it aloud to yourself and to follow the next suggestion.
3. Share a draft with your fans
If you’re feeling unsure about something you’ve written, solicit the opinions of those people who have praised your writing in the past. The positive feedback you’ll likely receive will give your confidence a much-needed boost and give you the motivation you need to be able to share your work with harsher critics.
4. Don’t think it about too much
Don’t overthink your assignment. If you spend too much time thinking about it, your mind may conjure up negative, even irrational, reasoning that will only contribute to your anxiety. Nike had it right — just do it.
5. Decide NOT to take it personal
I’ve come to realize over time that my anxiety about writing was really a reflection of how I viewed people’s reaction to me. I wasn’t afraid they wouldn’t like my writing — I was afraid they wouldn’t like me! Once I reminded myself that people’s reactions to my writing wasn’t the same as their reaction to me as a person, I began to relax enough to be able to share my work with others.
To be fair, I think some amount of anxiety about writing is a good thing as it forces you to hold the things you compose to a higher standard. I do believe, however, that you will not enjoy writing if you let the feelings of anxiety overcome you, so it’s important to do what you can to do away with those fears.
[bctt tweet=”Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself”]
Have you ever had anxiety about writing? How did you overcome it?