How Do I Conquer My Fears About Writing?

Do you sometimes feel unable to move forward as a writer?

As new freelancers, we may blame our lack of progress on a lack of time. Many of us are also raising a family, caring for aging parents, or working a second job. For some of us, it’s all three.

How Do I Conquer My Fears About Writing?

But could your lack of progress also be due to a hidden fear about writing?

Let’s look at some common fears you may be masking and ways to whip them!

1. Fear of Imperfection

The need to have everything “perfect” can become a major time suck. For example,

Do you make frequent changes to your writer’s site or blog?

There’s nothing like a professional-looking website with a clear message aimed at your ideal client. But some of us can’t leave well enough alone.

Maybe it’s the flashy feature we’ve admired on someone else’s blog. Perhaps we’re no longer loving our site’s colors, fonts, and layout.

Enhancements can become a habit that’s hard to break. Consider whether your next revision is truly necessary to help you gain clients. Is your goal to have the perfect site? Or to have a successful writing business?

Do you take hours to write the first paragraph?

If nothing you write seems good enough, step away for five minutes to clear your head. Skip the introduction for now, if that’s where you’re stuck, and see if a better idea will present itself after you’ve written the rest of the story.

Do you edit your story to death?

Granted, editing is vitally important. But some of us may review our words a hundred or more times before we deem them worthy of submission!

When caught in an editing loop, I try to remind myself of the eventual cost to my business if each phrase in every post has to sound just right.

2. Fear of Failure

Here’s another question: How often do you daydream about interacting with future clients?

If your answer is “seldom” or “never,” why is that? Could one of these be keeping you from visualizing yourself as an established writer with paying clients?

  • Fear of having a query ignored or an article rejected
  • Fear of being perceived as lacking in knowledge or writing skills
  • Fear of being dropped by a client
  • Fear of not making an income from writing
  • Fear of how writing may affect your family life

It may help to remember that one’s failures don’t equate to one’s worth as a writer. Failures are just part of being a writer.

Failure can be a powerful tool. Consider basketball legend Michael Jordan, who once said: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

If fear of failure stops you dead in your tracks, use that as motivation to arm yourself with better habits toward success:

Give It All You’ve Got

Before you click on “Publish,” find ways to make your blog post twice as engaging. Give a query letter one more read before you send it.

There’s seldom a regret when you produce work that reflects your best efforts. By setting your bar high now, you’ll be better prepared for the bigger challenges ahead.

Use a Writing Checklist

Many writers follow a checklist when they post. I like to bullet things like do’s and don’ts for grammar and style, tips for introductions and conclusions, and links to my favorite headline analyzer tool.

For query letters and submissions, I have another list that includes points to mention in my email and the type of attachments I typically send.

This helps me to be more consistent in my writing and communications.

Take a Writing Course

Craft a better game plan by learning from a professional writer.

When you understand more about the freelancing world and what clients really want, you’ll have more confidence in your new career.

Organize Your Writing Business

Have you decided on your initial pay rate? How you’ll track clients, projects, and payments?

With business details in place, you’ll be more inclined to think of yourself as a successful writer with paying clients. Then, watch from this new vantage point as better ideas start to flow about how to make your freelancing goals a reality!

De-clutter Your Life

If you’re tearing out your hair over your to-do list, maybe it’s time to rethink what goes on it.

There’s a ton of online advice on how to overcome to-do list overwhelm. Try a tip that speaks to your soul.

What about other areas of your life? Are there things that could be done less often? If your habit is to pick up groceries twice a week, could you do it once a week? Or use a delivery service?

Do you need to say “no” more often to the people in your life? Are there time-consuming tasks you could cheaply and easily outsource? Do you regularly think of ways to combine errands and avoid extra trips?

3. Fear of Putting Yourself Out There

Personally, I often feel timid about putting my feelings into words. This may be due to my IT background and career, where I needed to write entirely without emotion.

But, there’s also a concern about how others may react to my story. Sometimes it’s like I’m frozen in fear.

Can you relate?

Here’s an exercise for this: For your eyes only, type how you really feel about the topic. Don’t stop and think. Just type as fast as you can. Remember: this draft is just for you …

Okay, got it? There’s your truth. Now, write the story.

What other fears might you be hiding from yourself? Could you be overly concerned that

  • Readers will think your thoughts are not worth reading?
  • Readers will be annoyed by your viewpoint?
  • Your family or friends will be upset?
  • Your articles won’t get enough “likes” in social media?
  • You’ll get negative feedback and/or hate mail?

Try Putting Yourself in Their Place

When you review your draft, imagine it’s your family and friends doing the reading. Will their reaction to your story be positive? Or negative?

What about your general readership? Might something you wrote be offensive? Is there a portion of your story you now wish you’d approached differently? A sentence or two that would be better omitted?

Can you revise your story to solve the issue while keeping your commitment to your client and staying true to your readers?

It may help to show your story to someone whose opinion you trust and get their take on it.

Wrapping It Up

Fears about failure, imperfection, and expressing oneself can be hard. But don’t let them keep you from moving forward.

Work through your writing fears, one at a time, as you picture your successful freelancing life ahead!

Now it’s your turn:

What’s been one of your fears about writing? How have you worked through it?

Kimberly Jo Land is a freelance writer for hire from The Hoosier State of Indiana. She specializes in wellness and family caregiving and offers blog writing, article writing, and ghostwriting services. When not writing, she enjoys vegetarian cooking and hanging out with her amazing family.

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Thank you, Kim, for writing this post since all of the points are so very true about my personal feeling of showing off writing in public. I have a fear of writing since the beginning because I was afraid of what people will think or what they will say about a post/story I have written. I am still working on beating down my writing fears.Reply to Anum
Ah, those ugly fears rear their head again. I fear a lot. We all do. The thing is not to let it cripple you. I just read a post about fear of what others will say or think or criticism. The author, Connie Ragen Green, suggested you answer the critic with “So?”. It made me laugh. It’s so simple. Imagine the next time someone criticizes your writing responding with – “So?”. Some gems I’m taking away: – Is your goal to have the perfect site? Or to have a successful writing business? (I mess with my blog a lot. Really should outsource this) – one’s failures don’t equate to one’s worth as a writer. (This will be posted on the wall where I write) – If you’re tearing out your hair over your to-do list, maybe it’s time to rethink what goes on it. (I’m good at eliminating client’s to-do lists but my own is a beast. Taking this quote to heart.)Reply to SaraBeth
Hi, SaraBeth. I Googled to find the (LinkedIn) article you mentioned on fear of criticism. Ha, I like that response too (“So?”). Empowering, yet lighthearted (smile). Thanks for your comments. Very best wishes!Reply to Kimberly
I’ve dealt with so many of these fears but I have learned many valuable things over the past 2 years: start something before you’re ready. Start pitching in a new industry even if you know almost nothing about it. I have a client I write for where I have to research each topic before writing the article but that’s okay. He provides the topics to choose from so that has lessened my fears exponentially. You won’t fail or succeed if you don’t try, right?Reply to Lizzie
So true. I like how you put it: “start something before you’re ready.” Thanks for sharing your experience, Lizzie. Great tips!Reply to Kimberly
I’ve learned that if I wait until I’m ready, I’ll never start doing whatever it is I’m working toward. I have so much I want to do with my writing and it scares me sometimes. If I put myself out there before I’m ready, more of it will be done.Reply to Lizzie
Hi Kimberly, your article is spot on and it’s something I need badly as I’m entering the freelance writing world. I have this ultra-editing habit that I need to break and I found your tips on taking a break and thinking about the cost to the business to be very helpful. Many thanks for sharing this!Reply to Ida
Hi Ida! I’m so glad you found the post helpful. I know, ultra-editing can be a tough one! If you’re like me, it may be less painful to pry your hands off this habit slowly. Like aim to reduce the number of edits by 10%-15%, per article, till your editing process is where you want it to be. Thanks a lot for writing, and very best wishes!Reply to Kim