There are several forms of fear that can affect writers. For instance, some people suffer from a fear of failure or criticism, while others experience the more common phobia of public speaking.
However, one type of fear that is often overlooked is an overwhelming sense of terror at just the thought of writing itself. If you find yourself struggling with this problem and dread sitting down to write for any reason whatsoever, there are ways to overcome it so that your life as a writer becomes far easier than before.
Perhaps you have found yourself in front of a blank page wondering what words should come next…
Maybe you’ve sat down to write but all those ideas in your mind seem to be gone now? Whatever your reasons.
How do you overcome this fear of writing? Read on to find out.
Types of Fears of Writing
The extreme type of fears of writing are called Graphophobia and Scriptophobia. But in less extreme cases, there are several fears that writers have that are connected to their fear of people’s judgment, rejection, and lack of belief in their skill or talent.
Before I get to Graphophobia and Scriptophobia, let me mention some of these.
1. “My writing is good enough already” Fear
These types of writers are afraid that publishing their work might make them look stupid or arrogant. They do not want to write for the public, but only for themselves… which is normally a bad idea since if you don’t have anyone to read your work—it won’t improve.
2. Fear of rejection
Some writers fear editors will reject their stories and novels and deny them the opportunity of being published in magazines and books. This fear comes because writers worry that mistakes with formatting, punctuation or spelling, etcetera will lead to their work being rejected.
When writers are afraid that their work will be rejected, they get anxious about their reputation. They fear what people may say behind their back if the writer’s story is not good enough for them to read or it’s too dark, deep, unhappy, et cetera.
3. “Others will not like my writing” Fear
These types of writers fear rejection because they think that other people will be harsh on them… and this makes them not want to publish their work or share it with anyone.
This type of writer fears wasted time and is afraid that publishing his work is going to be a waste of time since—in his opinion—it is not good enough and might never be.
4. Fear of the blank page
One recurring problem in a writer’s life is writer’s block. This is when your mind freezes and cannot give you something worth writing at all.
You cannot write anything, not even a single sentence or word. Sometimes, you just give up and are afraid to go back to a blank page. If it goes on for a long time, you might lose your interest entirely.
Graphophobia and Scriptophobia
Graphophobia is the irrational fear of writing—especially handwriting. Scriptophobia is the extreme fear of writing in public.
People suffering from these conditions are known to avoid writing as the mere thought of writing brings anxiety. People with graphophobia may experience symptoms similar to other common phobias or social anxiety disorders when they are confronted by writing, and—sometimes—the anxiety is so intense that it develops into a full-blown panic attack as a result of it.
Some common symptoms include a faster heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating and trembling, nausea/upset stomach, dry mouth and difficulty speaking clearly, dizziness, fainting, and feeling light-headedness.
Someone suffering from extreme cases of graphophobia may take avoidance of writing to the extreme by ensuring that they are not exposed to any form of writing. For example, some may avoid going places where there is a lot of writing, such as offices or schools, where it is likely to be seen often.
In some cases, graphophobia can become so severe that a person suffering from it can feel like they can’t get away from writing no matter what he or she does because there is too much writing around them. Hence they may feel trapped when they are in writing-filled environments because they can’t escape writing’s presence.
Causes of Graphophobia and Scriptophobia
There are many causes of Graphophobia or Scriptophobia, but it cannot be medically determined what specific root is responsible for a particular case.
Two of the main causes are genetics and the person’s environment. For instance, a history of mental illness and phobias in the family may increase the chances of developing these conditions.
In some cases, graphophobia is a result of a traumatic experience and for people with genetic predisposition issues, it may only require a minor experience of traumatic event to develop full-blown graphophobia.
We can’t say for sure the definitive causes of graphophobia, but we can say that both genetics and environmental factors are factors in the development of all mental disorders. Therefore, they are the biggest suspects when someone develops graphophobia.
Graphophobia and Scriptophobia Treatments
Because there are no definitive causes of these conditions, there are specific treatments for them.
Be that as it may, there are several forms of treatment that reduce the symptoms of graphophobia. Some of these treatments are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and psychiatric medications.
Does Fear of Writing Exist?
Yes, it does, and it exists in many forms. Naturally, some people might find it difficult to put their thoughts into words because of a lack of self-confidence or a feeling that one’s work isn’t good enough.
But—as you’ll learn later in the article—for others, this fear might be severe and is caused by complicated factors (i.e., Graphophobia and Scriptophobia). That’s why I have written the “types of fears” section to shed more light on the fear of writing.
How to Overcome Your Fear of Writing
1. Face and Understand your fear
Think about it, fear is something that hides within you, lurking deep down in your body or mind. Fear doesn’t come in any physical form—it’s neither a person nor an animal. This means that it’s only manifested in our minds and bodies.
Therefore, if you want to overcome your fear of writing, then you must face this fear and deal with the manifestation, the fear lurking underneath the surface, and work to rid your system of this fear of writing.
“You cannot conquer that which you don’t know.” I don’t know who said that, but someone must have said it.
But, to understand how fear works, we have to look into psychology. In general, understanding fear has been one of the psychologists’ goals for years, and they have labored to find out why people are afraid and how they can overcome those fears.
If you discover that your fear of writing originates from simple roots such as lack of self-belief or fear of rejection, then simple solutions such as therapy or boosting your self-esteem can help you overcome it.
But, if the fear of writing has severe causes like Scriptophobia, then therapy is an effective solution.
Just like other forms of phobia, therapy may be advantageous for treating someone with Scriptophobia or graphophobia.
The kind of therapies that work for other phobias also work phobias associated with writing. For instance, exposure therapy is an effective form of treatment for people suffering from Scriptophobia. In this type of therapy, the therapist slowly exposes the patient to their phobia over a certain amount of time.
The underlying concept is that if they frequently expose the patient to that which they fear, the impact of the phobia will lessen over time.
Some may resort to anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication, but without using the doctor’s recommendation or any form of therapy may not be very effective in the long run.
3. Look to Writers You Admire for Inspiration
Sometimes, you’re afraid to write because you’re intimidated by famous writers and are afraid that you’ll never measure up, that is utterly unnecessary.
Instead of envying them or being intimidated by their success, use their stories to inspire yourself. You have to take some time to research them and read their works.
There are a lot of platforms that you can use to learn about writing greats like Hemmingway, Shakespeare, or Dr. Seuss.
If you fear writing because you’re intimidated by successful writers who publish multiple books each year, don’t compare yourself to them! The more successful they become, the more stressed you’ll be if you’re trying to compete with them.
4. Take Breaks When Writing Gets Hard
It can be extremely frustrating to spend hours working on a new article or book chapter only to find yourself stuck and not knowing how to fix your problem.
To combat this fear and frustration, take regular breaks and stops and give yourself time to think over what you’ve written so far. Come back later with fresh eyes and renewed focus.
5. Stay Away from Social Media for a While
Social media is known as a breeding ground for fear. We see all these beautiful people with perfect lives and no fear, so we fear that we will never be as good as them.
If you fear writing because of your fear of being perceived as inadequate by those around you, stay away from social media for the duration of your project!
6. Never Give Up on Your Story
Almost everyone feels some type of fear when they begin to write their first book or articles for publication.
Either that or you’re too excited!
You can’t let this fear stop you from writing your story, you can’t let it win! The only way to overcome writing fears is to keep going even when it gets hard.
Keep telling yourself that no one will publish your work if it’s not good enough, so give everything you have before giving up completely.
7. Learn to Ignore Your Doubts
No matter how hard you try, you will always have doubts about your ability to succeed as a writer.
Instead of fighting these fears by trying to silence them, learn to ignore them altogether. You can be confident in your ability without knowing that you’ll never fail, but if fear ever comes knocking on the door again, tell it that it’s no longer welcome.
8. Remind Yourself That Everyone a Voice
You may think that you’re the only one who has the fear of writing, but that fear is universal. Billions of people struggle with fear daily and worry that they don’t have what it takes to get their words down on paper.
Even if you fear writing more than most, remember this: so do all the other writers in the world!
So, how do they do it? They know that they can’t write like everyone else, that the uniqueness of their voice is what made them successful. If you recognize this fact, you can overcome more than half of your writing fears.
9. Brainstorm Before Writing
The fear of writing can be attributed to many things. However, the one thing that is clear across all types of writers is how difficult it can be for them to get started with their work.
When you are struggling with finding inspiration or motivation to write, think about what may have caused this feeling, and then try using some techniques like brainstorming ideas ahead of time so you don’t feel overwhelmed when starting your next post.
Writing isn’t easy but taking steps in advance to reduce stress before sitting down at the keyboard should help alleviate any anxiety associated with “writer’s block.”
One difference between successful writers and those who are not can be summed up in one word: fear.
Those who fear success don’t believe that they deserve to succeed. They fear failure and fear success, so they fear writing. But fear does not create a successful writer. Creating a successful career in writing is a process of overcoming fear.
Remember: most great ideas don’t come from inspiration alone, but perspiration. Be willing to put in the hours and effort, and fear will lose all power over you.