What do I tell myself when I’m too scared to write? (It’s the same thing I will tell you)

Photo credit: Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash

The short answer: write something. Anything. Even if it’s stupid.

The longer answer:

Writers do tend to be an odd bunch, sometimes.

Maybe it’s because of this oddness that we’re so good at putting words to the page, telling stories that want to be read. But it doesn’t explain why writing is so damn hard for writers — whose job it is to write things.

You don’t see teachers, faces glowing blue as they huddle behind their laptop screens, typing “what do I do if I’m too scared to teach this lesson?” into the Google search box. Car salespeople aren’t standing in a little group discussing how much anxiety they feel about closing a sale.

But writers? We turned writer’s block into a thing. To give us an out on the days, weeks, months, when what we have to say feels too close to the bone.

Today was one of those days for me. I had to talk myself in to writing something, as the barrage of relentless doubts assaulted my brain like a mob of angry bees.

Where do I start? Who am I talking to? What do I have to say?

I went back and forth all morning, convincing myself that I couldn’t write until I looked up advice, went to Facebook, did any other task but write.

My stomach churned with anxiety. I was also fueled by a jittery, uneasy sense of frustration.

It was at the peak moment, when my seductive little interior demon was whispering, “Just give up. You’re not a writer. Forget it,” that I had finally had enough.

The question “what do I write?” felt so personal. I wasn’t writing for a client, and it wasn’t really for business/blogging purposes either. What I wanted to write was personal, so it felt scary.

Fear of judgement. Fear of negative feedback. The Internet is a vast universe filled with murky waters and under-bridge trolls who are more than happy to pop up at a moment’s notice.

I don’t know if my problem was so much that I didn’t know what to say, but rather that I didn’t know if I should put it “out there.”

The way I fixed my paralyzed brain and fingers today was to ask myself, “What would you tell someone else, some other person who is struggling the way you are?”

And, “What do you wish someone else, some kind, advice-giving soul, would tell you right now?”

What would I tell me, in this moment, when I’m too scared to write?

Write something, without publishing it anywhere. Maybe today is just too raw.

Write something, and then see how you feel when it’s done. Maybe you start with no intention of putting it out there, anywhere, but when you’re done it doesn’t seem so bad.

Write without knowing where you’re going. You feel like you need a perfect plan, a map and an arrival time. Maybe you don’t. Maybe it’s okay if you haven’t perfected your blog/writing strategy and you don’t have a content calendar planned with months of writing.

Maybe you aren’t exactly sure of you’re niche right now. It’s okay to have 25 topics you could potentially write about. Start with one. See what happens.

Write for a single person. Write for you. Is there another “you” out there who is also in their own stuck, hellish, negative brain, hoping for someone, anyone to tell them it’s okay?

Maybe all that I need is also all that you need.

We’re all fighting our own demons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight them together. Sometimes what seems simple (I don’t know what to write) masks a deeper, more intense problem (self-doubt, insecurity, dealing with a life situation that is eating you up).

We can fix the writing problem by — writing. And the other?

For that, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes. It comes from the 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie, and know that when I share it with you, I mean it.

“When you can’t look on the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark.”

Image credit: unknown. Quote: Disney, Alice in Wonderland, 2010