My own handwriting looks more akin to a spider skating on ink (Photo: OuadiO)

Facing the fear: “Learning to write”

Recently I’ve been contemplating “learning to write”, not in the way you learn in school, but in the way that allows you to be completely happy at the prospect of sharing what you’ve written.

The purpose of writing is, arguably, to simply convey a message. As a consumer of content there’s nothing better than relaxing with an article on something — or by someone — that you find interesting.

In some ways it can be quite a magical experience; capable of taking your mind away from the crowded commuter train that you find yourself on at 8am on a Monday morning. It can even open your eyes to new places and possibilities, and sadly, quite often to things that you’d rather not know about.

Personally I like to think that I have a lot to say, in fact I would hazard a guess that most people who know me would choose the word “opinionated” to describe me. I’m a software developer by profession too — so combined with my aforementioned opinions, neither content nor technicalities should really stand in my way.

This leads to a simple question: what’s my actual problem with writing then? I admit that I have opinions I’m open to sharing, I’m technically literate enough to write a blog post (and, in fact, manage a personal website) and — by virtue of this post — I can formulate my thoughts in to words.

Unfortunately it’s a more difficult problem to answer, and it comes down to a simple case of fear.

My biggest barrier: fear. (Photograph: dryhead)

The real problem

One of the must brutal aspects of sharing something you’ve worked on — be it in any creative form — is the knowledge that anyone can come along and judge you based upon it. There’s no rebuttal, nor any ability to hide, your creation is wide open for the entire world to see. That’s always terrified me.

Yes, it’s true that I’ve always had a blog.. but I’ve also had a great appreciation for the security and privacy that came with having a very small active readership. A small readership that wasn’t due to the content — on the contrary, I’d won work via my blog — but more so my lack of discipline when it came to writing regularly combined with my complete reluctance to self-promote in anyway.

Fear over something as simple as writing your thoughts down for others to read seems peculiar, and although I’m quite a private person, it still seems a completely illogical. So imagine my surprise when a cursory google returned a lifehacker article: “How to Overcome the Fear of Sharing Your Writing in Public”!

The surprise in finding that this attitude was not only common, but well documented, soothed the anxieties attached to sharing my writing. Within hours I’d read multiple articles on the subject, all shaped by various anecdotes and experiences. Ultimately though, all these articles could be summarised with one quote:

Facing your fears robs them of their power
- Mark Burnett

So, here I am: sharing some thoughts.

This is part of a three part series in facing everyday fears, other posts are “Going it alone” and “Networking”.

Fergus is a Developer and DevOps practitioner from London, where he currently works under Binary Digital.

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