A Fear of Writing

Writing. One of my biggest fears.

My problem: I expect way too much from myself. I have high expectations. I am highly critical of myself. I only expect the best. Nothing less.

Right now I’m at a stage of (not) writing my last assessment piece for the semester. I’m paralysed. Hit a wall. I just want to escape it all and have it submitted already. But that can’t happen.

To varying degrees, depending on how important the piece is, I go through this agony every single time.

Not that I wish to blame someone else for my fear, but it does stem from my experiences in my senior year in high school – an English teacher who never liked my writing. Every time I wrote there was something dramatically wrong with it. Every. Single. Time. Red pen all over, the 100 questions about why I wrote something the way I did, and him telling me how much I complicated my sentences, tried to be ‘tricky’ and how I didn’t answer the assignment question HIS WAY. My entire senior year in English was spent trying so hard to produce a ‘perfect’ piece of writing at first attempt. My confidence in my ideas and writing plummeted. I’ve come to dread every major piece of writing I have to complete. I’m absolutely terrified.

There’s that saying, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. I guess my experience was supposed to improve my writing? Perhaps. But doesn’t mean it improved my approach or attitude towards writing.

Throughout university (under-graduate degree) and right up until now, I’ve struggled to find ways to make writing easier for myself. Always looking for tips, tricks and a ‘magical’ method that would turn my writing into brilliance. I’ve gone through books and starred many blog posts. I’ve discovered while many tips are helpful, they’re only as helpful as to the extent to which you use them, and that means actually writing.

To overcome my fear, at the start of this year I decided to make writing a priority. I started this blog. I knew that if I wanted to improve my writing and re-gain confidence in myself, I needed to practice, practice and practice some more. One thing that has stuck in my mind is what a member of academic staff at QUT once said at a workshop – if you don’t have time for something, it means its not a priority. I’ve since adopted the approach to every habit I’ve wanted to change and skill I’ve wanted to acquire. I want to acquire great writing skills. I make time for it. Simple.

Why do I want great writing skills? To communicate my ideas and thoughts well enough for others to understand. I have noteworthy thoughts, knowledge and ideas in my head but I’d like to get better at communicating them. Improving my writing through practice will benefit me professionally in the long term.

There is no cure for a fear of writing, only treatment. Treatment can be in the form of: –

  • practice
  • practice combined with consultation of self-help books for writing, and
  • practice with a certain favourable beverage.

Here are some resources from my “starred” items in my Google Reader: –

I’m sure there are more, but I think I must get back to (attempting) writing my assessment piece…..

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  1. “The perfect is the enemy of the good”…

    I write for a living (journalism, two NF books) and frequently hit “send” when it might not be perfect. It can’t be…perfect for whom? For me, and the editor hates it? It’s good (enough) that the checks keep coming and so does the work.

    Cut yourself a little slack. Better to produce and keep getting there than to stand still, terrified.

  2. If it’s any help, I think your writing is great. You manage to be reflective, instructional and funny – I think it’s time to metaphorically tell your Year 12 English teacher (and don’t get me started on the misuse of power by school based authority figures!) he didn’t know what he was talking about. Trust me, I’m a librarian 🙂

  3. Thank you very much for the kind words. They’re of great help and just the boost I need to kick this assessment’s butt!

  4. The most I write since I finished studying is my quarterly reports for work. I’m enjoying writing both my blog and the NLS5 blog, because it’s something so different to normal.

    I like your style of writing. I enjoy reading your posts.

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