Writing Anxiety (And How to Address It)

Being a writer is hard. Anyone who says otherwise obviously has been living under a rock. There is so much that goes into developing the craft: writing, proof-reading, editing, more editing. And that’s just for basic papers. Books and articles take a lot more to finalize. It can all seem daunting, especially to young readers who want to tell their own stories, express their own voices through some sort of medium. We’re very lucky in this day and age to have the networking abilities we have, to be able to share thoughts and voices with a few keystrokes. The online world has opened more doors for writers than ever before, but the very thought can cause a lot of anxiety. There are so many people with the dream to write, so many different avenues that can be walked, so many different perspectives. Coming up with unique, compelling stories can seem terrifying, share those stories can be even more so.

However, if you let these fears prohibit you from expressing these very ideas, then you will never see those stories come to fruition. You will never let the world hear your voice. While the world can seem daunting, and the prospect of sharing your innermost thoughts terrifying, it can also be liberating. You and your voice, like all voices, are unique and deserve to be heard. Here are some tips to help you get through the inevitable anxiety that comes with being a writer.

1. Overcoming Doubt

I don’t have enough fingers to count the amount of times I’ve looked at a blank word document and thought, “What the hell am I doing?” Doubting yourself comes with the territory of being a writer. We are solitary people, spend most of our lives in our own imaginations, whether it be thinking or reading. Doubt is a given; it’s a right of passage, and it’s something that has to be overcome. When you start to feel the gnarling claws of anxiety and doubt creepy towards your heart, squash it like a bug. You are in control. You deserve to be heard. Your story deserves to be shared. Don’t let doubt stop you. Write that story; write that essay or article, and share it with the world. Doubt doesn’t have a right to silence you – no one does, not even yourself. I know it’s hard, but pushing past the doubt and writing is one of the bravest and most satisfying things you will ever do.

2. Staying Motivated

Contrary to popular belief, motivation is not the end-all-be-all. Sometimes you just have to say screw it, sit your ass down, and type. Writing is hard, people. You aren’t always going to want to sit for hours on end writing page after page of prose. It gets daunting. However, motivation towards the craft itself is important to keep yourself going. Having problems with the outline for a story? Look for a new angle to spice things up. I tend to listen to anime playlists to help get my creativity flowing. Struggling with research for an article? Take what you already know and see if you can find something out of the ordinary with your topic. Something new, that usually sparks more interest to learn more. Still bogged down by doubt? Look for inspirational quotes, pictures, favorite lines from a book, and post them around your workspace. Remind yourself why you’re doing this, where you want to see yourself in a few years, what your end goal is. If you can look up and see something you enjoy, it’ll keep you going.

3. Guilt

Every writer has it. Guilt for writing instead of going out with friends, feeling like your not spending enough time with the kids, or for setting aside hours in the day to write instead of cleaning the house, walking the dog, doing any number of things. Everyone has it, but not everyone overcomes it. Too many times writers sacrifice their writing time to do other mundane chores, or make excuses for themselves instead of sitting down and doing their job. Yes, writing is a job. It is a way of life, but also a career, and careers mean jobs that make you money. If you have a book to finish, set aside time, an hour or two a day, and don’t let anything get in your way. The toilet can be cleaned after your writing time is up. The kids won’t burn the house down in that small window of time. The laundry can be folded after. If you want to go out with friends, set that time earlier in the day. Going out can be your reward for writing. Schedule your writing like any other appointment, so when guilt comes knocking, tell it to come back later, you have writing to do.

I hope this helps you feel a little bit more at ease about the wonderful, but emotional roller coaster that is becoming a writer. It’s a lifelong journey, but if it’s ingrained in your very soul, then these trials will be worth it.

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