Writer's Block. Top Five Fears

scaredy catOne of the main causes of writer's block is fear. There are many kinds of fear when it comes to writing and all of them are capable of stopping our creativity if we let them. You are not alone.

There are thousands of people at any given moment struggling with the same fear that you are and they’re just as stuck. If you suspect fear as the cause of writer's block all you need to do is examine where that fear comes from. The only cure is reason. The good news is, because you can recognize the fear you can beat it. These 5 fears and tips to get over them will help you eliminate writer's block and find the words that are screaming to come out.

1. The Fear of Failure. What if no one wants to hear what you have to say? What if you aren't a good enough writer? The simple fact is you'll never know if you don't try. Is it worse for you to try and fail or to live the rest of your life with an unfulfilled dream?

If you think it's worse to fail, then maybe you aren't ready to be a writer. But if writing is really your dream, if you want to live for words, then eventually you'll come back. Don't waste time with this fear. Everyone fails at first. Everyone needs to improve their writing, but after the initial sting you'll be able to look back at what you've written and see where you failed and why. Then you get to try again. If you're persistent and determined, failure will be your best teacher.

2. The Fear of Criticism. Even the most seasoned writers cringe when they read a bad review. If you know you can deal with the criticism it won't stop you from writing.

There are two types of criticism: Productive and Destructive (or counterproductive). Productive criticism is something that writers should seek. If you hand off an article or manuscript to someone and only want them to tell you how good it is then you're wasting your time. You want productive criticism. They need to tell you where the weakness is and why it was a weakness. It's especially helpful if they can suggest a way to correct it but never let someone take over your writing.

Destructive criticism is very different. Instead of "this part needs work," destructive criticism says, usually in a general sense, "this is bad." Don't waste your time listening to it. It will do nothing to help you grow. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as just tuning out. You can't see daisies if all that's in front of you is thistle. You have to decide if that opinion has any value. If the criticism is made directly to your face, ask questions. Try to turn the destructive into constructive. If the criticizer is stubborn and won't back down and won't offer anything constructive, ask yourself if one negative critique is going to stop you. It won't because you've already faced the fear.

3. The Fear of Offending. The status quo is a very comfortable situation but it isn't the best. Have you written about someone honestly? Have you told the truth? George Orwell said, "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." Writers have a moral obligation to tell the truth as they see it. They also have obligations to act responsibly.

There are a few examples of times when the truth is something that can be avoided (note, avoided does not mean replaced with a lie. It means the truth should be omitted). Don't tell the world that John Doe's mother used to beat him if it's irrelevant and John Doe doesn't want the world to know. You have to use your judgement but most of the time the truth is needed to make the writing worthwhile. People are imperfect and it's appropriate to portray them that way.

There are a few ways to deal with truths that make you uncomfortable that should help you to beat your writer's block. First, ask why the truth was hidden. Ask who will be offended by it. Ask what the consequences of telling the truth will be. Writing is challenging lies and perceptions. If you aren't comfortable with that then ask why you're writing in the first place.

If people are upset about the truth, and they very often will be, then it's their problem, not yours. Readers will often demand the truth and then get mad at you for giving it to them. Let them. If it's really the truth you've given them they'll come back and ask for more no matter how angry they are about it.

Another concern is that you'll offend someone with "obscene" content such as sex or drugs. In this case, the only question you have to ask is if the material is gratuitous. Are you including it to get a shock? If the answer is yes then it might be wise to edit it out. If not, leave it be. The world casts shadows on things it doesn't want to see. A writer's job is to go poking around with a flashlight. Excluding something because it's unpleasant renders your writing powerless. Examine the purpose of your writing. If you have a strong idea of what you want or need to say, offending some people becomes a necessary action. When you get stuck, remind yourself of your purpose. It will re-empower your writing and break the most stubborn writer's block.

4. The Fear of Becoming Empty . Creativity is hard to understand and many writers are afraid that it'll go away. It doesn't. Creativity is something that's always in you. It's there even when you can't find a way to translate it into words. However, there are several techniques you can use to keep it fresh. Almost every website that offers advice on writing will tell you to keep a journal. So keep a journal. It keeps the mind active, it's good writing practice, and there's no fear because you're the only person who will read it.

When you get hit by writer's block, journals are and endless source of creative material. It has all the ramblings of your mind to choose from. Some writers like to keep newspaper clippings, pieces of overheard conversation, general observations, or other creatively stimulating material in their journal. If that helps you, go for it. Other writers just write down their thoughts and feelings and a few paragraphs about how their day went. This will also offer you material that you can use later. When you set a pen to paper without worrying about what people with think you allow your mind to free associate and you'll often find yourself writing the foundation of a new article or story.

5. The Fear of Being Read . Performing in front of an audience is one of the most common fears. Writing for an audience is a similar experience and developing writer's block from it isn't unusual. It evokes all of the fears addressed here. Here's the secret that no one tells you. Most people want your writing to succeed. People will pick up your article or book or essay and read through it because they want to. You aren't forcing yourself on anyone. Because they came to you they are inherently approaching your writing with a positive attitude. Doesn't that feel good?

This knowledge doesn't help you completely overcome your fears but it's a good start. What you really need is a little bit of confidence and that comes through practice. Start by writing for people you know want to read your writing and keep up with you: family and friends. The best way to do this is by starting a blog. Start a blog. Blogger or wordpress will have your own personal corner of the web setup in a matter of minutes. Most blogs, and by most I mean upwards of 99%, are highly personal and have a limited audience. That's exactly what you need to overcome your fear. Write at least one or two posts a week. Keep a schedule. You'll get harmless, confidence boosting feedback from friends and family who are thrilled to keep up with your life. It also gives you invaluable experience at keeping a writing schedule. It's amazing how quickly the blog archives build up. Before you know it you'll have dozens of posts. It's a writing sample archive. It stirs your creativity as you think of new and better topics and your posts and writing will get better every month.

Fear isn't the only thing that clogs our creative pores. Check out ten ways to beat stress that's causing writer's block.

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