Earlier this month I started a series on overcoming obstacles in writing. I began with discussing writer’s block however the mother of that obstacle is writing anxiety. Writing anxiety is the feeling of tension, worried thoughts and sometimes physical changes (such as higher blood pressure) which occurs when a person faces a writing task. It is the major negative feelings writers have when they attempt to write. In its extreme form some people become physically ill sometimes vomiting and getting headaches or body aches.
Writing anxiety may cause you to avoid writing at all costs. You might feel nervous or unable to write anything (writer’s block). You may self-sabotage any efforts when it comes to writing. One may also have symptoms that include excessive worry and unnecessary stress associated with the performance of writing.
So, how do you fight writing anxiety? First you need to find out and know what your triggers for the anxiety are. Is it due to deadlines, meeting them or creating them? Is it due to competitiveness or is it due to fear of failure? It could stem from social, professional and even academic factors. You might feel pressure from your peers, publisher or teachers. After you pinpoint the triggers of why you feel anxious when it comes to writing then you can effectively fight it. Often the anxiety you feel is situational and you should pay attention to situations that cause it and avoid them.
Some ways to combat writing anxiety include getting a writing buddy or peer that will help you feel more relaxed as you write. That person should be someone you like and trust who is encouraging and wants to see you succeed. Another way is to avoid being isolated by becoming apart of a writing group. Often writers are loners but that is not necessarily healthy. Instead of isolating yourself join a local writing group where you can leave your office (home or otherwise) to meet with like minded writers.
The best way to fight the obstacle is to identify your strengths as a writer and person. This will help you reverse the negative thought patterns that feed your anxiety. Another thing to do is to think of writing as a craft that requires practice for you to master it. As you think of writing as craft you can deem yourself to be an apprentice of sorts learning to become the best you can be at the craft. Also, you should try to change your writing mode sometimes and not get stuck in a rut. Better still, do what you want your audience to do with your finished project: read. Reading will help you overcome your anxiety and give you something different to do for the time being while developing your creativity.
Writing anxiety doesn’t have to be debilitating and stop you from completing your career goals. These were just the basics but good insights on how to overcome this obstacle. Once you conquer the monster you can create your masterpiece and finish the task at hand: writing.