The Fear in Writing



Why is writing so scary?  I mean, it is, isn’t it?  Maybe not always, but every once in a while you look down at your fingers and pause. Then you glance up at the page marker and whether it says 1, 5, or 500, it doesn’t matter.  You think, “Wow.  I’m positive that what just spilled out of my brain and onto that page is complete crap.”

Except that most of the time it’s not.  Something about writing makes us more critical about our own work than other people would be. That can be a good thing because it can drive us to do better.  But it can also be crippling.

Stephen King said, “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”  That may be true but I’d like to respond with a follow up statement.  I’m convinced that fear is the root cause behind the loss of many great writers.  There could be thousands of amazing writers out there who just didn’t trust themselves to sit down and try writing.  Or to keep writing when they were discouraged.  Or to understand that we have to develop our skills – that they don’t just come to us fully formed.


Many of us are also too afraid to put our work out there.  We’re afraid that our friends and family won’t like it.  That editors or agents will laugh at us.  But if they do, so what?  That just tells you to get better.  It gives you motivation to come back a day, month, or year later and show them that they were wrong.  Besides, any friends or family worth being close to us want to see us succeed and will help us get there.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” — Mark Twain

So don’t let fear of any kind keep you from writing.  Don’t let it keep you from sharing your work.  Keep getting better and better, and when you feel it’s time, take a leap of faith and put it out there.

From the renowned master of perfection himself, “Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.” – Gustave Flaubert


6 comments on “The Fear in Writing”

  1. “Wow. I’m positive that what just spilled out of my brain and onto that page is complete crap.” This made me laugh out loud, because I’ve said it about a gazillion times. I think there’s got to be a healthy balance–a way to keep the inner critic around but put a muzzle on it, so that we don’t lose sight of our standards, but also don’t set them unrealistically high.

  2. I agree with what you said. I sometimes do feel that fear and w-r-i-t-e , but many of the times I just ‘write-the-hell-out-of me’. Later is more comforting. for me.

  3. A great post! I think fear is not exclusive to writers, though. I have a lot of friends in visual and performance at who are extremely critical of their own work too. I think fear and self- criticism is all apart of the Artist’s curse and largely fueled by self-doubt. Hard to beat, but worth it to create! Thanks for your work!

  4. Great post! I stopped by to thank you for visiting my blog and liking one of my posts. I hope you’ll visit again. Fear and negative people held me back from writing for quite some time, and my son helped me overcome that. Thanks for sharing this post — it’s a great encouragement for those who have the desire to write but struggle with the fear.

  5. Great Post, and most important of all, YOU CAN WRITE! It is nice to see someone take care with a blog post, good grammar, spelling and with a deceptively free and easy style, clearly taking care to write that stylish way well. Really well, Congrats. IMHO you have a future as a writer. Because you care, and it shows. Keep up the great work. Pam Wagner from Wagblog, oh and thanks for liking a post of mine. But I am mostly glad because it led me to YOUR delightfully well-written blog.

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