ten ways to beat the fear of writing

Many people find it hard to start writing. One of the possible reasons is fear. Fear of what readers might think. Fear of being able to write stylishly enough. Fear that the writing won’t measure up to your own high standards. Fear of not being able to get an argument together. Fear that there won’t be enough words. Or too many.

That fear can be debilitating. Usually what’s needed is a combination of something like pomodoros and prompts just to get going, plus support from others and giving yourself a good talking to. If you’re at the talking to myself about the fear stage, then what follows might be helpful.


Writer Joanne Harris, a.k.a @joannechocolat, recently tweeted ten ways to beat the fear of writing. I’ve reprinted them here – without formal permission (initially tried and failed to sort and crossed fingers it was OK, now with permission, Thankyou) – as they’re very appropriate in #AcWriMo.

Harris says:

Full disclosure: every writer is sometimes afraid. You; me; Stephen King. Don’t try to avoid fear: USE it.

Afraid you won’t be good enough? Stop trying to compare yourself with others. Be you. Only you can do that.      

Afraid of failure? Embrace it. Only by failing repeatedly will you ever stand a chance of success.

Afraid of being laughed at? Practice standing in front of the mirror, repeating: “F**k you, I’m fabulous.”

Afraid to begin? Write a sentence. It doesn’t have to be a good one; just write it down. Write another. Repeat.

Afraid to finish? That’s because you’re afraid of letting your story go. Stories are like birds. Let them fly.      

Afraid to show your writing to other people? You don’t have to until you feel ready. Promise.     

Afraid of unfriendly reviews? Print them off, and put them in your cat’s litter tray. Let cats crap on them all day.

Afraid you’re not a real writer? Answer me this: Do you write? If so, then you’re a real writer.

Afraid you’re doing it all wrong? There’s no single way to write. If it works for you, you’re doing fine.

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in academic fears, academic writing, acwrimo and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to ten ways to beat the fear of writing

  1. Tuluiga Aiiloilo-maka says:

    Patter Thank you so much this article is related to me as I am scared what I am about to write may not be good enough for anyone to see or read. But thank you for word of encouragement that will definitely support me in this journey. God Bless Tuluiga


  2. Ciaran Sugrue says:

    ‘Write On’!!


  3. So much to write, so little time!


  4. zakerielham says:

    Such an inspiring piece, thanks for that.


  5. Therese Bernier says:

    My favourite “Afraid of unfriendly reviews? Print them off, and put them in your cat’s litter tray. Let cats crap on them all day.” LOL! Thank you for posting these tips. Helpful and calming.


  6. meetalshah says:

    Thank you so much for your really thoughtful blog posts. I wish I had discovered your blog at the beginning of my graduate studies! Every time I get stuck I hear a small voice in my head that sounds a little like Dory from Finding Nemo… just keep writing, just keep writing…! And I come back to this blog post when that fails me. Thanks Dr. Thompson!


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