You say you are a writer, yet you don’t write. You know writers write, and you want to write (or so you say), but you rarely, if ever, produce written words. Why don’t you put fingers on the keyboard and knock out some powerful writing?
That’s the million-dollar question for many, many writers. So, what’s the answer?
It would be easy to offer judgment… If you aren’t writing, you aren’t a writer. The truth is that you very well may be a writer—and a good one at that.
Here’s the real, honest, and ultimate answer to the question of why you—and so many self-professed writers—don’t write: You are scared.
You can call your lack of consistent word production writer’s block, say you are gestating a book, article, or blog post idea, or claim not to have time to write now. Whatever your reason, admit that it’s an excuse.
The truth is that you are afraid.
Once you admit that, you can figure out what you fear. Then you can take bold action toward your dream of authorship.
My Writing Fears
If you think I’m some magical writing unicorn who doesn’t suffer from fear, think again. And I bet many successful writers or authors will admit to feeling fear…at least sometimes.
The only difference between me, prolific writers and authors, and you is that we feel the fear and write anyway. Plus, we take bold action and publish our work.
I went through a four- or five-year writing drought. Why? Fear.
What do I have to be afraid of? After all, I’m an Amazon bestselling author and have been both traditionally and independently published. Plus, I publish my words weekly on my blog(s).
Let me tell you…I can find lots of things to fear!
The #1 Thing that Stops Writers from Writing
So what are writers afraid of? What fears stop you and I from doing our life’s work…writing books, articles, and blog posts that make a difference?
I can think of at least nine things that might leave writers’ hands trembling and render them unable to focus on a current work in progress. And I have experienced them all…more than once.
1. You doubt yourself.
Call this overthinking, if you like. Basically, your mental chatter tells you that your idea, writing, expertise, knowledge, or experience is not enough. This sends you into a spiral of fear that you are, in some way, not good enough to write.
2. You think you’ll be judged.
No one likes to be judged. In fact, we will do anything we can to be liked, loved, and accepted, including covering up our greatest talents. Your mind will offer various scenarios in which you will be judged for what you wrote and end up feeling the fool or, worse yet, disliked. Those often unconscious thoughts of potential judgment breed vast amounts of fear.
3. You believe you will fail.
Most people—not all—fear failure. No matter how often you hear that “there is no failure” or “failure leads to success,” your mind still wants to avoid failure at all costs. If there is a chance your writing project will flop, you will avoid writing.
4. You think you’ll be seen as an imposter.
Nonfiction writers are experts and authorities…or they are supposed to be. If you begin to think you are neither an expert nor an authority, you will also question why you are qualified to write a book. You’ll end up with a case of Imposter Syndrome. That means your fear of being discovered as a fraud will stop you from writing. If you do write, you won’t publish.
5. You think the process will be too hard.
While some people love a challenge, most humans avoid any activity that appears difficult. As a Certified High Performance Coach, many of my clients share that they are afraid the writing process will be arduous…too hard. Again, this fear is generated by your mind. The more you focus your thoughts on the possibility that writing will be difficult, the less you want to write.
6. You aren’t sure you’ll like being an author.
Despite dreaming of becoming an author, you may wonder if you will enjoy authorship. The more you focus on the possibility that you won’t like it, the fewer reasons you have to write. After all, you are comfortable now, are you not? From that perspective, the grass doesn’t look greener on the published side of the fence. That viewpoint leads to a fear that you might be disappointed even after achieving writing success.
Another fear I often hear during Author Coaching sessions are generated by the belief that writing success or authorship requires giving up things. And who wants to lose anything, right? No way, no how. You can avoid what in the high-performance vernacular is called “loss pain” by not writing. Then you don’t have to discover what you might have had to give up to succeed as a writer—or feel that loss.
8. You are afraid to move out of your comfort zone.
Becoming a writer or author requires that you play big. It’s impossible to do that if you are afraid of discomfort. Most of us prefer our comfort zones over discomfort zones. Discomfort is…well…uncomfortable—even when the discomfort comes with doing something to enjoy or taking action toward a dream.
9. You are more afraid of success than failure.
Silly as it sounds, many people—maybe you (and definitely me)—are more afraid of success than we are of failure. Think about it… Success means change…uncomfortable situations (like speaking before an audience and book reviews)…and potential loss (of privacy, free time, or even relationships). Failure, on the other hand, allows everything to stay the same. You can hang out in your comfort zone forever. So why risk success? Just don’t write.
How to Move Through Your Fear
Do you have one or more of the fears mentioned above? If so, you can see how fear stops you from writing.
So what now?
“Wait for courage,” you respond.
The way to remove your fear is to take brave action. Yes, you can use hypnosis or visualization. You can say affirmations and create a vision board. I am all for those tools, but nothing beats brave action.
And brave action is courage. Plain and simple, you will be courageous when you act boldly.
If fear stops you from writing, your bold action is clear. Write. Every day write…no matter what—especially if you feel afraid.
The more you write, the more your mind—specifically your subconscious mind—will become convinced that writing is a safe activity. Your reptilian brain is hardwired to keep you safe. The more often you demonstrate that writing does not put you in harm’s way, the more quickly that part of your brain will stop putting you into fight-or-flight mode when you sit down at your computer.
Manage Your Mind
Notice anything about all these fears? They are created by your mind—often by your subconscious mind. That means you may not even realize that your thoughts are trained on a vague possibility of something unwanted happening in the future.
But that’s what you are thinking about—something that likely will not happen. Or you are contemplating a past event and assuming something similar will happen again in the future.
In other words, you—or your thoughts—are the only thing stopping you from writing. The solution is to get out of your own way.
How? “Take bold action. Write,” you say.
But in addition to writing—or if you just can’t get yourself to write—do something that supports your personal growth. That’s how you stop stopping yourself from writing.
I created the Inspired Creator Community because I wanted to support writers in their efforts to write and publish. I wanted to show them how to get out of their own way and write and publish without any internal obstacles.
While you can find many courses on writing or publishing, there are few (if any) focused on writers’ personal and spiritual growth. Yet, understanding yourself and becoming the type of person who can—and does—write and publish are essential to your success as an author. If it weren’t necessary, fewer writers would allow fear to stop them from writing.
I know this better than anyone. I stopped writing anything other than blog posts for almost five years. Fear stopped me in my tracks. I’d never struggled to write…not all the years I’ve been a writer.
How did I become courageous? I enrolled in a personal and spiritual growth program like the Inspired Creator Community. However, it had one significant deficiency—it wasn’t for writers. That said, it still helped me get unstuck and start writing without fear.
How will you prevent fear from stopping you from writing? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with any writers who aren’t writing consistently.
Would you like to write and publish nonfiction work, like articles, blog posts, books, or reports…and become a successful author? Join the Nonfiction Writers’ University. Get the basic education you need and the Author Coaching to help you succeed as a nonfiction writer. Enjoy a 30-day trial membership for only $1. If you’ve felt the desire to get coached and be supported as you pursue authorship, this program is for you.
Photo courtesy of Hanna Kuprevich
This post includes affiliate links.