Do you have a fear of writing? If you do, you avoid writing tasks. You procrastinate.
In professional writers, “fear” often feels like resistance. This resistance may be a good thing, as I shared on Google+:
Usually, when I wake up in the morning, I make a cup of coffee and start writing fiction immediately. It’s easiest for me to write fiction first, before I start writing “real” stuff – nonfiction. I was a little spooked this morning when I opened my email instead.
Why was I resisting? Why, oh why wasn’t I writing?
But I went with it. When I finally opened my fiction WIP, the story took off in an entirely new direction. I’m thrilled. I didn’t work on any fiction at all yesterday; I had a couple of client deadlines. It seems my subconscious mind was gestating a new (and better) direction for this story during the downtime on it. I’m pleased.
Is resistance fear of writing? In the above instance, it wasn’t. I wanted to write, but felt that I wasn’t ready. I knew I’d work on the fiction project at some point during the day.
What about a real fear of writing? Can you write anyway? Yes you can. Try these three tips.
1. Switch Your Brain: Be Happy.
This exercise sounds weird, but it may work for you – quirk your lips to the right, to trigger your left brain:
If you pull the left lip back repeatedly, it can trigger the right brain. You may feel sad. Pulling back the right lip can trigger the left brain, and a feeling of happiness.
Go on, try it. It works for me, and it may work for you. You should feel a sudden little jolt of happiness which will make your writing task seem a lot less intimidating, and more fun.
Read the LEFT BRAIN RIGHT BRAIN article which explains the exercise; it’s interesting. A lot of brain lateralization theory has been debunked, but it’s still a useful way to think about creativity and your brain.
2. Start Writing – Write Stream-of-Consciousness Material for Ten Minutes.
I’ve been using this little trick for a couple of decades, and I teach it to my writing students. It puts you into “creative” mode; writing triggers more writing.
Here’s all you do. Get a timer, and set it for ten minutes. Now start writing, and keep writing. Write anything you like, whatever words pop into your head. There’s only one rule: KEEP WRITING, no matter what, until the timer goes off.
You can type, or write by hand, it’s up to you.
Writing for ten minutes changes your mood. I discovered this when I started a daily walking regime. For the first ten minutes of the walk, I hated it. At around the eleventh minute, I started to enjoy it.
You can apply this “ten minute” rule to lots of things. Just keep doing the task for ten minutes, and you’ll start to enjoy it.
3. “I’m scared of writing because…”
This exercise works if you have a deep-seated aversion to writing. You may need to repeat it several times. If you do, it will remove your fear of writing completely. One of my students practiced this exercise several times a week for a couple of months. He has no problems with fear of writing now.
As with the stream-of-consciousness exercise, set a timer for ten minutes.
Write “I’m scared of writing because…” and keep writing for ten minutes. Try to write in whole sentences if you can. If you can’t, don’t worry about it. Again, write whatever comes. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, or censoring yourself.
If you wish, you can try this exercise using your non-dominant hand (that is, if you’re right-handed, write with your left hand.)
As we’ve said: if you keep repeating this exercise, eventually you’ll stop being afraid of writing. I’ve no idea why it works, it just does.
So there you have it; three tips to help you to overcome your fear of writing, and make writing fun. :-)
Got a writing challenge? I’ve been helping writers for 20 years. Get in touch.
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