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How to Overcome Writing Anxiety

Most people think that, when it comes to writing a book, the hardest part is the actual writing. But if you’ve ever attempted to write a book, then you know writing is the easiest part. So then what’s the hard part? Why is it we almost always have to force ourselves to sit down at the desk and make beautiful words flow onto the page with ease if it’s really that easy? The answer? Writing anxiety and self-doubt.

In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of writing anxiety, strategies for pushing through doubts and insecurity, and how to become the author of a finished book. By understanding writing resistance and learning tools to overcome anxiety, you can step fully into your writer identity and manifest the transformational book within you.

Identifying Writing Anxiety and Self-Doubt

Writing anxiety often disguises itself as reasonable doubt. As you start questioning your book idea or abilities, the discomfort feels concrete and valid rather than like a fleeting emotion. But this doubt is usually your brain triggering the fight or flight response to an imaginary threat. In other words, the fear and other uncomfortable feelings are valid, but the thought behind them… nada.

You see, our brains are wired to resist change and new patterns. So when you commit to a writing project, your mind will inevitably hit back with doubts to pull you back into old habits. Writing anxiety stems from the brain’s desire to stay safe by avoiding the hard work of growth.

These doubts will sound smart and scientific—and yes, you are a smart and scientific being—but this is really just fear dressing up in a lab coat and knocking at your door. Common writing anxiety whispers include:

  • Is this really the right topic?
  • Can I actually help people with this book?
  • Am I qualified to give this advice?
  • What if no one buys my book?

It all feels so real and reasonable in the moment. But there won’t actually be dire consequences if you write the “wrong” book. No one will come to your house and take your kids away or ban you from writing again. Remind yourself that the stakes are imaginary. Your kids will keep living, you’ll keep writing, and life will keep lifing.

Stick to Your Book Topic

Be sure to take notice when you want to “change your mind” or pivot to a different topic. This is a big red flag. Altering course and changing your book topic may briefly relieve the discomfort, but it’s an expensive path. You lose momentum and waste the hard work you already put in.

Instead, identify the doubt, connect with the underlying fear, but don’t let it drive the car. Note the concerns your resistance raises, but stay grounded in your human logic, not the primal fight or flight reaction. Keep moving forward as the person (read: AUTHOR) determined to finish this book.

Navigating Through Writing Anxiety

When writing anxiety rears its head, the most important thing is not letting the doubts derail your existing path and plans. Note the concerns and whispers from your resistance, but don’t let them significantly alter your course. Changing direction just relieves the short-term discomfort while costing you the long-term benefits of finishing this book.

Instead, when faced with writing anxiety, dig deeper to connect with the underlying fear driving the doubts. What is it really afraid of? Then address those worries logically from your human prefrontal cortex, not your primal instinct. For example, if the fear is that your book won’t help anyone, remind yourself that impact comes in unpredictable ways, and the important thing is creating an authentic work.

Press Pause

As you navigate the writing anxiety, also make space for meditation, prayer or reflection to clear your mind. The anxiety often arises when we are stuck in our busy day-to-day. So pressing pause to get grounded and reconnect to your purpose can work wonders.

Similarly, tap into creative outlets like journaling, art, or music to let your inspiration flow more freely. If you feel blocked while staring at your open Word document, switch mediums. Play an instrument, bake, dance or whatever helps you destress. Allow things to percolate in your unconscious then return to writing with fresh eyes.

Finally, recognize that some level of writing anxiety will show up throughout your journey—when fleshing out the premise, sending to editors, publishing and more. But each time it appears then passes, you will build confidence in your ability to move through it. By staying anchored in your vision and not allowing the passing storms of self-doubt to blow you permanently off course, you will become the type of author capable of making an impact with their work. The writing anxiety will not magically disappear, but your ability to sail through it will grow.

Sharing Doubts and Getting Support

While writing anxiety feels intensely personal, you aren’t alone in facing doubts. Every author who has ever pushed through to finish their book has confronted similar resistance. And isolating yourself only gives more power to the fear. So be vulnerable about your insecurities through sharing openly in safe spaces.

The writing journey will be full of moments when you think your struggles sound silly, boring or petty compared to what everyone else is dealing with. But push past the urge to hide. Know that a community who has walked in your shoes before will offer nonjudgment. What feels small to you can be a light bulb moment for others grappling with the same writing anxiety behind closed doors.

See yourself reflected back in how group members navigate their own doubts. When you openly share the insecurity and then witness someone else coach a member through that same flavor of resistance, it builds compassion for yourself. The writing anxiety starts to feel less daunting and shameful.

Seek the Help of a Writing Coach

Also make space to be coached and supported by teachers, mentors and peers. Their outside eye provides much-needed objectivity. Since the fear lives inside your head, trusting external input is key. Let a supportive voice question the most dire assumptions your anxiety convinces you is real. And give mentors permission to hold you accountable to your aspirations rather than letting the writing anxiety derail your progress.

While writing requires solo creation time, never buy into the myth of the lone genius slaving away in solitude. Not only is isolation unhealthy, but that lone wolf mystique rarely reflects reality. Behind most great writing is a network. Surround yourself with a web of supportive friends, authors, coaches and communities. Use them as a mirror when writing anxiety distorts your self-perception and as guides when you need reassurance to stay on course.

Becoming the Person Who Wrote the Book

Ultimately, managing writing anxiety comes down to your level of desire and commitment to evolve into the person capable of finishing this book. No one else can want success for you more than you do. So you must be willing to push through doubts even when support systems can only do so much.

Rather than dread the discomfort of writing anxiety, recognize it as a sign you are on the right path. Progress requires shedding old stories and versions of yourself that hold you back. And there will inevitably be awkward growth phases, like a snake uncomfortable as it molts its skin or a butterfly struggling to force itself through the crysalic cocoon.

But staying there in limbo prevents your emergence into the fullest expression of your potential impact. Your destiny is waiting on the other side of persistence despite temporary discomforts.

So quickly move into this next version of yourself, the identity shift from “aspiring writer” to “published author.” Don’t overly identity with the former as a way to avoid responsibility for achieving the latter. And come ready to receive the lessons inherent in the writing journey so this book plants seeds for further change making.

Adopt habits to accelerate your growth trajectory. Take advantage of coaching, find authors further ahead to emulate, hold yourself accountable through deadlines and structure, believe in the person you wish to become. Know millions may be impacted by the self-doubt you overcome during months alone at your desk. Not everyone can withstand temporary isolation and lost weekends so books capable of changing lives never manifest. More transform through the person you must evolve into than just the manuscript itself.

Defeat Writing Anxiety Once and For All!

Writing anxiety is a common roadblock that makes authorship seem out of reach. Yet as we’ve explored, these doubts can be managed through identifying distorted thoughts, finding community reassurance, evolving your self-concept, and leaning into discomfort for growth. Now that you’re equipped with strategies to overcome resistance, it’s time to finally write the transformational book within you. Put aside perfectionism, quiet the inner critic, and step boldly forward as the author you were meant to be.

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