10 Ways to Fight off Writer’s Anxiety
It’s happened to all of us before. We sit down to write and get overwhelmed. Are we even any good at writing? Fear takes over and the screen is too white and blank and no words are coming. This is writer’s anxiety and it hampers our creativity and ability to produce. So let’s look at some ways to overcome it.
- Break your story down into manageable tasks. Whether this means plotting and planning for a scene or writing a scene at a time, breaking a novel into these doable chunks will add up to writing done without the freak out. I make a scene list so I can jump around from scene to scene as I’m inspired.
- Remove distractions. Unplug from the internet. Leave your phone in the other room. Let everyone know to leave you alone for a few hours while you write. You can go that long without checking Facebook and texts and survive. I promise. Make your writing a priority and give it a chance.
- Don’t be afraid to write badly. Rough drafts are rough. They’re called that for a reason. You can’t let perfectionism take over if you want to finish a novel. Turn off your inner editor and just create. Good writing is rewriting, so just get the story down for now. You’ll make it better later.
- Reevaluate your decisions. Did you take a wrong turn somewhere? Sometimes we get stuck because we took our story in the wrong direction. Analyze what you have written to see if it’s really going to work or not. Maybe by changing your last plot decision, you’ll find the words start flowing again.
- Ask for help. Ask someone to keep you accountable and actually writing during your writing time. Or ask a fellow writer to do word sprints with you. Sit down and race each other for ten or fifteen minutes until you get into a rhythm.
- Be positive. When that negative self-talk starts in your head, replace it with positive thoughts. When that voice says you’ll never finish this project, remind yourself how far you have come since you started with this idea. You’ll find you’ve actually accomplished a lot. When they say your writing is awful, think of the worst book you’ve ever read. Not only was it published, but I bet your writing is better than that. Remind yourself of the positive and keep writing.
- Learn about how you write best. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you need detailed outlines for each chapter or just a couple of characters to wing it with? Do you need absolute silence or some upbeat music? What is your best method for success? Set yourself up to succeed.
Write to an audience of one. Choose someone to write your story to. Write to a friend or loved one who will enjoy reading your story. Imagine them as you write. This will help take some of the pressure off you and help you to get the words down.
- Set reasonable goals. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a goal that’s too lofty. Set something manageable like a page a day or 500 words. That way you’ll feel good reaching those daily goals and even better surpassing them.
- Reward yourself. Take breaks to keep your mind fresh and reward yourself for good writing sessions. Take a walk, read fifteen pages of that story you can’t put down, go on Facebook for ten minutes, or eat some candy. Positive reinforcement helps develop good habits, just don’t overindulge.
These tips can help you keep writing when that fear and anxiety settle in. Writing isn’t easy, but it is doable so keep working at it. What are your tips for writer’s anxiety? Share below and happy writing.