5 tips to conquer writing anxiety

There is deafening silence all around with a blank paper staring back menacingly at you. You feel like all your ideas are sucked away, making you feel powerless and paralyzed.

Writing anxiety is mostly situational and it is, therefore, necessary to identify what causes anxiety. Understanding the causes is the first step towards addressing anxiety itself.

Anxiety often results from discomfort caused by various elements like tight deadlines, unfamiliar topics, unexplored genres, varied audience, fear of criticism, wobbly self-confidence, sleep deprivation, hunger, high expectations, and just about anything that makes you feel a little off.

And don’t you already know that this “feeling off” is only temporary? You know it, yes, but then again there’s self-doubt that feeds on your confidence and makes you think otherwise.

To counter writing anxiety:

Ask yourself some critical questions

  1. What do I aim to achieve with this piece of writing (purpose)?
  2. Are there any points to remember (guidelines)?
  3. Who am I writing it for (audience)?
  4. Would my writing benefit the readers (takeaways)?
  5. So what (significance)?

 

If your answers are plausible, then you’ll come up with a solid outline. Once you have an outline, you’re ready to start.

Give yourself a head start

Like it or not, writing deadline is a race against time and a necessary evil without which there’s no guarantee that you’ll finish what you started. And to be able to finish something in style, it’s important to start early.

An Early start is what will give you more time and the required respite on days you just can’t bring yourself to write. You get enough time to edit what you’ve written and spot writing gaffes, saving yourself a truckload of embarrassment.

Cut yourself some slack

If you’re a writer who is confident writing essays and other forms of academic writing but can’t pull off fiction, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or incapable of writing. It only means you’re a better academic writer than a novelist.

All great writers, of different genre, have bad days and admit to having crippling self-doubt and resulting anxiety.

It’s, therefore, necessary to give yourself a break and let go of thoughts that have the potential to paralyze you. Don’t hate yourself for having a bad day.

Go back to something you’ve written in the past and are proud of. Read it to remind yourself that you’re not a bad writer. Google writing tips and inspirational quotes. Read an old appreciation mail or comments on your blog that commend your writing.

Reward yourself

Set writing goals that are realistic and reward yourself on achieving a goal. Sometimes, a small reward like treating yourself to your favorite ice cream can work wonders!

When you work too hard and don’t reward yourself, there’s a chance that you’ll be overcome by a sense of deprivation. Treating yourself helps you perk up and improves your productivity.

Rewarding yourself is not self-indulgence. It’s a way of thanking yourself for all the effort you put in.

Make use of writing tools online

We have access to hundreds of writing tools online that help you hone your writing skills and inspire you to become a better writer.

I use Cram for brainstorming (characterization, breaking down plot points, etc), Focus Writer to write (tracking goals and writing better), and Hemingway for editing (ruthless editing).

 

These are just a few things that can come in handy while confronting writing anxiety, and to help you rise above fear and surprise yourself.

 

And on days you lack motivation, remember this: A bend in the road is not the end of the road.

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