Your Writing Anxiety - 10 Ways to Bring Relief
Anxiety, apprehension, cold feet, consternation, dismay, distress, dread, fear,
fright, horror, nervousness, panic, scare, strain, stress, tension, terror, trepidation,
unease or uneasiness: whatever it's called, you've got it.
And the reason is ... you've got to write an article!
Writing anxiety or 'writer's block' happens to all writers at some point in their
writing lives. It may be that you don't know what to write about or, with your topic
firmly in place, you don't know where to start.
At this point, procrastination sets in.
Doing anything, rather than actually writing, seems a whole lot better than putting
pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard. Even walking the dog, in pouring rain and
gale-force winds, has higher priority!
Try some of these ways to restore your writing equilibrium:
1. Avoid starting with a blank page. There's nothing more daunting than beginning
from nothing. Work with a template. This will help you to stay focused on your topic.
Download and print out some appropriate free graphic organizers from the Internet
or use graphic organizer software, like NotateIt, that will help you to rearrange
and organise your thoughts in freestyle format.
2. Brainstorm your topic. Take some time out for creative thinking with a
friend or colleague. You'll get some new twists on the theme, especially if they're
not 'experts' in your subject matter!
3. Write an outline. Just set out a list of headings. They don't even have
to be in order - you can always rearrange them later. Write each heading on a separate
card or piece of paper and shuffle the result. A new order may emerge that you hadn't
thought of, giving you a new slant on your topic.
4. Use a whiteboard. Fix a large magnetic whiteboard on your wall and use
it to rearrange your ideas. If a whiteboard on the wall feels too intrusive, try
some inexpensive whiteboard software on your PC instead.
5. Break your task down into smaller chunks. From your outline, choose one
heading and write. Then go on to another heading and write. It doesn't matter which
order you write in, because it can all be rearranged later. Not only that, you're
achieving your larger goal in a series of smaller steps and that makes it much more
6. Write in the way that you speak. It's friendlier to read and it's an easier
and more natural way for you to write.
7. Don't worry about perfection too soon. Spell checking, indenting paragraphs,
changing font size - this is the icing on the cake. Just let your writing flow and,
just for once, forget the grammar. Perfection can come later - at the redrafting
8. Think about your readers in a different way. You may be anxious that your
article is not "good enough" to be read by your peers. Remember, even if your audience
are "experts", they don't know what you think about your subject. Nor does it mean
that they know everything there is to know about a subject area. Target your writing
towards an intelligent, enthusiastic, but non-expert, reader and your writing confidence
9. You've completed your writing. This is your first draft. The secret, now,
is to redraft and redraft again. You'd be surprised at just how many things you'll
want to say differently when the sun rises tomorrow! Read your article once a day,
make changes then put it aside until the next day. In a few days, you'll read your
article and find nothing to change. That's when you're ready to publish!
10. Believe in yourself. The first articles you write may not be perfect
but the more you write, the better your style will become. It's like learning to
walk - all it takes is a little time and lots of practice.
© 2005 Lynda Blake. All Rights Reserved.
NOTE: You're welcome to "reprint" this article online as long as it remains complete
and unaltered, including the "About the Author" info at the end.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lynda Blake is an independent writer, working with small UK businesses to improve
their web presence.
Resources used in preparing this article:
Whiteboard Software: http://www.notateit.com