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Are You Too Scared to Write? Stop Thinking and Just Do It

Are You Too Scared to Write? Stop Thinking and Just Do It

    It has taken me over 15 years to get back to writing and start taking it seriously.

    I have been reading and writing since I was barely out of diapers. And yet I never dared to think of myself as a writer. “God, no I can’t be one of those,” I thought. I allowed my fears of writing to rule my life, to make me not even admit to myself that I was doing the same job that writers do.

    My fears took the form of excuses, but they still were fears in disguise. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being accused of
    impersonating someone I was not. Do you relate to any of these?

    Fear #1 – You are not good enough

    All of my life, I thought I was a mediocre writer – that my work was not worthy of being made public.

    For one, I wrote in a very ‘bloggish’ style. A conversational style that has been made popular by the likes of Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha , Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and David Nicholl’s One Day. Twenty years ago, I couldn’t find any books that would say to me “your style is valid too”; colloquial is good.

    Writing in a personal, conversational style where it feels like you are having an intimate conversation with your reader is not only perfectly valid but highly sought after. The stronger your voice is and the more opinionated you are, the more interesting writer you will become.

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    I wish somebody had told me 10 years ago. I wish somebody had told me to stop comparing my writing with others.

    What has been keeping you from calling yourself a writer?

    Is it a different sort of style, love of genre or form? Whatever it is, embrace it and work it.

    Writing is about voice, personality and delivery, not the placement of your em-dash. (Which I love to use by the way). People are looking for honesty, not perfect prose, which means you have all the creativity you need.

    Banish perfection and hone your craft. Remember imperfect is interesting. Doubt is good – it helps you steer in revision.

    Sit down, start writing and don’t think. That’s all you need to do to write. Don’t think – just write.

    Fear #2 – You have nothing to say

    Feed your brain. Read, observe, participate, live.

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    Record your ideas: a small writing pad and a small writing device are your best friend. You can lug them around and there is no excuse to be two feet away from one at any time. My best ideas come when I am doing the dishes or about to fall asleep. Both are not ideal. If I couldn’t touch some sort of notebook when I reached for it, I’d lose all sleep.

    Get rid of distraction: turn off the Internet, your phone, and TV. Disappear for a while in your writing. And you will amazed and how much work you can accomplish.

    You need what you need to know. You don’t need 50 personal and writing books to tell you that. They make you feel like you are not creative enough, organized enough, fit enough, clever enough. You are all those things. Have you lived a life? If so, that qualifies you to write.

    There is only one thing you need to write – you need to have a life. Write about what you have lived through – tell your own stories.

    Fear #3 – You don’t know where to begin

    It’s very simple. All you need are a few things:

    • A quiet place to sit.
    • A paper and pencil or computer.
    • Ability to be by yourself for a while.
    • Willingness to explore yourself.

    What you DON’T need:

    • An expensive education or writing degree.
    • Expensive stationary and office supplies etc.
    • Expensive computers and software.
    • Anything new.

    Fear #4 – You don’t have support

    Writing is a communal act – you don’t do it alone.

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    Don’t fret if your family gives you blank stares when you suddenly announce, “I want to write.” Don’t lose hope when your partner doesn’t break into a dance of joy upon hearing this good news.

    Don’t be offended if your friends nod their heads politely, while keeping an eye on their kids chasing each other at the park, or trying to kill someone. It’s very unlikely that you will find support among your family and friends – unless you are incredibly lucky. Give them time, let the news sink in, for both your sakes. Remember they are new at this too; they will eventually come around.

    Go on on an active hunt for like minded people.

    Have you been following any writers’ blogs? Read the ones that offer courage and inspiration to keep you going as you hone your craft. They will keep you motivated. Even better, start a blog of your own if you haven’t already.

    Go to the local library and find reading or writing groups. Join an online book group where all the “book obsessed” hang out. Attend live readings. If you are too shy to do these things, join anyway and lurk. Speak up when you have the courage. Don’t talk about your work for now – just listen.

    All in all, remember these 3 rules:

    1. Stop thinking.

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    2. Start writing.

    3. Don’t think about it.

    Be interesting and you will make your writing interesting. Write honestly and passionately and learn along the way. That’s how all the famous ones do it!

    Which fear of writing is stopping you from writing? Do share in the comments below.

    (Photo credit: An open old book by the candlelight via Shutterstock)

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    Marya Jan

    Marya is a business strategist. She shares tips about life and success on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

    What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

    Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

    You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

    This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

    What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

    According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

    Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

    There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

    How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

    When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

    Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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    1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

    One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

    The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

    Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

    2. Be Honest

    A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

    If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

    On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

    Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

    3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

    Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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    If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

    4. Succeed at Something

    When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

    Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

    5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

    Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

    Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

    If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

    If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

    Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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    6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

    Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

    You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

    On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

    You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

    7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

    Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

    Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

    Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

    When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

    Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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    In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

    Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

    It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

    Final Thoughts

    When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

    The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

    Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

    Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

    Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

    More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

    Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
    [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
    [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
    [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
    [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
    [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
    [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
    [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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