For me, the biggest cause of writer’s block is my fears. I make excuses so I don’t have to face my writing fears. Yeah, I have writing fears. I think even the best writers do. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. But it’s ESSENTIAL to recognize them if you want to overcome them and get back to writing.
When my fears keep me from writing, I start making excuses as to why I can’t write. “I have too much house work to do.” I like to write in the morning so if it’s past 11am I’ll tell myself I missed my chance. “I’ll write after I eat lunch.” I’ll write after I read this post about fidget spinners.
When you catch yourself making excuses, it’s time to face your fears in order to overcome those excuses and cure your writer’s block.
Writer’s Block: Face Your Fears
Face Your Fears
Recognize Your Fears
The first step to facing your fears is to acknowledge them. Write them down. Call them what they are. Don’t ignore them or pretend they aren’t real. It can be hard to admit and voice your fears, but when you do you are one step closer to curing writer’s block.
My biggest fear is that I don’t have the knowledge to write a novel worth publishing. I studied grammar and creative writing in college, but I still have a lot to learn. The more I work on my novel, it seems I fix and improve just as much as I find plot holes or weak character development. I’m afraid my WIP will never amount to anything because I don’t have the knowledge or skill to make it worth something.
And even if I do create a finished manuscript that I think is publishable, I am afraid that it will never get published. Either I won’t be able to find an agent willing to represent me, or no publishing house in their right mind will want to publish my work.
I also have fears about being successful. I’m afraid of being published but not selling any books. I’m afraid of being published and having my work criticized and rejected.
When all of these fears well up inside of me, it’s nigh impossible to feel like writing. So I become a pro at finding every possible excuse not to write. I ignore my fears and hide them behind an excuse. Saying, “I can’t write because my lucky pink socks are dirty” is another way of saying “I’m not writing because I’m afraid.”
Conquer your Fears
The second step to face your fears is conquering them. Instead of giving into my fears, I tell myself that I don’t have to be afraid. I may not know everything, but I know a heck of a lot. And I can learn. I am always learning more about writing. I don’t think any writer knows everything. In the past few months I’ve taught myself so much about writing. Sometimes it seems like working on my novel creates as many issues as it fixes. But there have been definite moments where I can see the novel starting to take shape. I can see it starting to become what I want it to be. I feel confident in my ability to make it something. These are the moments I need to remember, not my moments of fear.
I don’t need to worry about getting published either. With self-publishing being an increasingly common and attractive option, there is no reason for me to ever think I can’t be published. I have high hopes for being published traditionally, but if that doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean I can’t be published.
When I am afraid of being successful, I do well to remind myself that some people may not like my book. There will be many people who won’t buy it or want to read it. I may get some unwanted negative criticism. But the people who do read it and enjoy it will make everything else worth it.
Combating your fears is not telling yourself that they are not rational. It is absolutely normal to have fears. The point in combating your fears is to realize that they don’t have to define you. They don’t have to keep you from writing. Your fears are valid and nobody should tell you otherwise, but you shouldn’t tell yourself that you can’t write because you are afraid.
When I face my fears instead of ignoring them, it is so much easier to stop making excuses and to keep writing.
Once you have recognized and conquered your fears, you are well on your way to overcoming excuses and curing writer’s block. When you find yourself making excuses you can remember that fear is likely driving that excuse. Once you recognize that fear and decide not to let it overpower you, it will be easier to stop making excuses.
Fear doesn’t drive all excuses, but if your excuse is fear based, facing that fear will help you overcome excuses.
It is also necessary to understand the difference between an excuse and a reason. An excuse is hard to defend and easy to argue. You really don’t need your lucky pink socks to write. A reason is a lot stronger. Your child just fell out of the tree in the back yard and broke his arm. Now you need to take him to the ER.
If you have a good reason for not writing, don’t let yourself feel guilty about missing a day or cutting your writing session short.
What are your writing fears, and how do you face them?
This is the fourth and final post in a series about writer’s block.
Part 1: Writer’s Block: Causes and Cures
Part 2: Writer’s Block: Be Prepared
Part 3: Writer’s Block: Take a Break
Part 4: Writer’s Block: Face Your Fears