Personal Essays, Writing Life

Let’s Talk Writing Anxiety: How to Address & Deal in a Healthy Way

Writing fears. Not a fun thing, huh?

First and foremost, let me be the first to tell you that writing fears (and writing-related anxiety) are not any less real than any other fear. I tend to downplay my feelings in ways such as, “I feel scared, but it’s okay, it’s just about writing.” Please don’t do that! Your writing fears are just as real as any other.

Secondly, while it’s okay and normal to experience this, that doesn’t mean we should sit there and take it. However, it also doesn’t mean we should dismiss it entirely in a classic “just be positive!” attitude.

That’s what we’re going to go over today! We’re talking about healthy ways to address and handle writing fears/anxiety. I’m drawing this information from my own personal experience as a writer.

Does writing make you anxious? Are you afraid of publishing, one-star reviews, or failure? Is the state of the world simply too much for you to focus on writing? Are these fears hurting you today?

If the answer to any of those is yes, then this article is for you, writer.

HOW TO ADDRESS AND DEAL WITH WRITING FEARS IN A HEALTHY WAY

Recently, I was hit with a wave of writing fear.

“Writing fear” is the best way I know how to put it. More accurately, I felt afraid of the idea of publishing to the extent that it affected every aspect of my day.

It didn’t hit me all at once; it began months before with dissatisfaction with the idea of publishing. I was thrilled to be in talks with my editor about my book, but I was just underwhelmed by the prospects of moving forward.

Then my long-ago-set publishing plans began to shift. I felt led beyond my initial goals. Reader, I was terrified by that thought.

At first, I thought little of that anxiety. I thought to myself, “I’m scared, but it’s just about writing, so it’s no big deal.” Even while writing this post, I started to wonder if I was making my fears out to be too “dramatic.”

I’ve already said this, but let me reiterate: don’t do that!

Before all else, acknowledge that you’re afraid. Then decide that the fears are valid.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not an emotion-led person. I tend to favor logic and, in the process, suppress or ignore my feelings (often unconsciously).

I’ve found that acknowledging that you are scared is a great start! You can do this by journaling about it, telling a friend, or simply stating your feelings to yourself.

Next, search yourself to address and name the fear. Ask yourself: why am I really afraid of this?

Upon deeper digging, I soon learned that I wasn’t merely afraid of publishing; I was afraid of failure. Addressing this has helped me work toward facing my fear and moving past it.

(I didn’t realize this right away; a lot of journaling and prayer brought it to light. I suggest you try the same to address your fears.)

By this point, I knew my fear inside and out; I’d decided I wasn’t going to pretend I wasn’t afraid, and I knew why I was afraid in the first place. But the fears weren’t going away. It was time to take action toward growing past my fears.

First, allow yourself time to feel the emotions fully in order to process them better.

Then, take steps to grow beyond your fear.

I looked for a plan in the YouVersion Bible app, as I’ve oftentimes heard God speak to me through that outlet. In the plan, “Chasing Failure” by Ryan Leak, I learned that being courageous is necessary.

That came as a surprise to me. Courage is necessary? God wants me to be brave?

It wasn’t exactly what I’d wanted to hear; I had grown comfortable in my fear. I’m not much of the daring type anyway, and I’d never really associated myself with words like “courage” and “bravery.”

I didn’t think I needed to take steps toward moving past my fear. I’d spent so long learning to accept my fear, and now I had to work for my peace?

I was wrong. I ended my prayer that night with, “Okay, God. I see you. I’ll be more courageous.”

It didn’t come overnight, mind you. But that declaration realigned my mindset, refocused the lens on God, and pulled so much weight off my shoulders.

The conscious choice to be brave is the biggest step you can take toward overcoming your fear, but it isn’t the only one! Here are some other choices I made that eased the anxiety:

  • I told somebody else. In my case, it was my mom; she was first to question my initial publishing plan, and first to celebrate when I told her I was going to pursue something new and scary.
  • I talked to God constantly. Whenever the fear would swamp me during the day, I tried my best to confide in Him first.

And finally:

  • I consciously made an effort toward choosing strength over fear, every day, every hour.

All of this was only a matter of days ago (as of this post’s release date).

Today, am I still scared? A little.

Do I trust God? Most definitely.

Am I more courageous in the face of my fears? 100%.

I hope this post was helpful to you in some way. I know fear of any kind is difficult; and it gets worse when it affects something you’re so passionate about, like writing! I hope you’re encouraged to have faith and grow past your fears today.

Happy writing, and happy growing. You’ve got this, writer!

3 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Writing Anxiety: How to Address & Deal in a Healthy Way

  1. Wow, this write up just shook me off of my complacency and procrastination as a result of fear. I know writing is one of the few things that comes natural to me, but the issue is sitting down to think of a concept to write about. Sometimes I feel like I am not even good enough to call myself a writer. Thank u for this…

    1. I can relate to this, Rita; I often feel like I’m not qualified enough to be a writer. But let me tell you: don’t buy into that lie! If writing comes naturally to you, keep pursuing it, “good enough” or not. Call yourself a writer, and chase your dreams till the end. You’ll be so glad you did.

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