Writer’s Block: Don’t Allow Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt into Your Writing

Every so often, someone asks me, “How do you write so much?”

I don't feel as if I write that much. I have meeting-filled days, just as you do. However, I suspect there's something different about my days: I write for 15 minutes every day. Sometimes, I write longer, but I write for 15 minutes every day.

Every day.

When I tell the person I write every day, they ask, “Don't you ever get writer's block?”

I ask, “Do you ever get speaking block?”

They shake their head at me. “No. Even if I don't quite know what to say, I can either think about it for a bit, or I can start talking and see where I end up.”

That's what I do, too, with my writing.

Writer's block isn't real. It's a comfortable excuse to let writers deal with fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Fear Can Stop Writing

Even before we start to write, we might worry, with these common concerns:

  • What if what I write is terrible? Then people won't like it.
  • What if it's wrong? Then people won't like it.
  • What if Famous People In The Field disagree with me? Some people won't like it. Others will cheer you on!

These fears can paralyze writers. Enough so they don't write anything.

That not-writing? No one will complain, because they can't read it because you didn't write it.

If you write this thing and it's “not good enough” what's the worst thing that could happen? You might need to edit it. Or start over and rewrite it. Or ask someone for help organizing it.

Is asking for help such a bad thing?

What would you need to overcome your fear? That's a reasonable approach to risk management.

What about uncertainty?

Uncertainty Can Stop Writing

When I work with nonfiction writers, they discuss their uncertainties:

  • They're not sure how to start. I recommend they start in the middle or the end of the piece.
  • They're not sure how to make the case. I recommend they use a short paragraph to set the context.
  • They're not sure how to end. I suggest they write until they think they've captured everything they want to say. Then, pick a sentence that looks like it's the end. Remove everything after that. Does that look about right? If not, they might write the way I do—with the ending as the first sentence or so.

Normally, those suggestions help people see alternatives for their piece. That might be enough for them to get started and finish.

Doubt Can Stop Writing

When I work with nonfiction writers, they ask about these doubts:

  • They think they might not be the right person to write about this thing. I ask them if they have direct experience. If so, I ask them to discuss their experience in the piece. If not, I ask about other similar experiences. When we write from our experiences, we are authentic and we do know enough.
  • They worry they don't have the words. I suggest they write as they would talk. Or to dictate the words.
  • They worry about those freaking Famous People again. I ask them if the Famous People have their experiences? No. When we write from our experiences, we don't have to doubt ourselves.

I have other reasons for getting stuck every so often. My two favorites are when I would rather write something else. Or if the writing is “important,” such as for a prestigious journal or site. My guideline is to ignore the audience until I'm done writing.

Ignore the Potential Consequences Until You Finish Writing

I do recommend you write to a real person when you write. That's a good way for me to make sure I address that person's probable concerns.

However, I don't think about the consequences of my writing until I'm done. I don't think about Famous People or Famous Sites or Famous Awards when I write. I might think about them when I publish, but I pretty much ignore them.

What if you do worry about Famous People or Sites? What's the worst thing that could happen?

They ignore you.

Really, that's the worst thing.

The best thing is when they pick a fight with you. They pluck you out of obscurity and give you their platform. Is that delicious, or what??

I love it when that happens!

You might have noticed I take contrarian stances for many ideas. I have found that being a contrarian fits my experiences, my writing, and my brand.

That's how I ignore the consequences until I'm done. Even when I'm done, I might think, “Do I want to address a Famous Person's possible misinterpretation of my writing?” If I do, I might add a little something so I'm even more clear.

More often, I say, “Heck with it. I wrote this and I'm proud of it.” I hit publish or I send it in and that's it.

Writer's Block is an excuse for not writing. Don't let writer's block be your excuse.

If you like this and want to work with me so you can be a freer and faster writer, sign up for the Q2 2021 Writing Workshop. And, if you like my attitude in this post and want to know how you can apply it to your consulting, sign up for the March 2021 Consulting Cohort.

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