Celebrating East African Writing!

When Fear Gets in Your Way

I know that I can write. I have hundreds of ideas, either written down or dictated on tapes. I have read over 30 books on writing. I really don’t believe that I suffer from “writer’s block”. [But] I get this awful feeling in my stomach, whenever I try to sit down and actually write something. I have the ideas in my head, but the words don’t come out on paper. I can’t seem to get a running start. How do I get past the feeling? What is it? I hope that your advice will be useful to my dilemma.

Face it head on!

The feeling is “fear.” It is one that we all face. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you are a “new” writer or an experienced one; we still get these feelings. Some of us get them when we face any new project; I know I do, and I’ve been in the business for more than 20 years.

Writing is not a safe activity. It involves a high probability of rejection, of not getting the words the way we want them, of failure. We can fail in so many ways. Not having our work “accepted” by editors is only one way; another is to simply fail to “live up” to our own expectations of ourselves.

One question you might want to ask yourself is what your expectations are. Do you expect to write flawless prose immediately? Do you find that what you write doesn’t live up to what you “imagined” — those scenes in your head that never come out as you pictured, on paper? (We all have that problem too.) Do you find yourself constantly “editing” your ideas before you can get them written down?

Do you expect to be criticized, rejected, or humiliated by others who read your writing? Note that this is a conflict of “expectations.” The first problem is that you expect that your writing must be good to be worth doing. The second problem is that you expect that others won’t find your writing “good enough.” Thus, you may feel that since you can’t write well enough to overcome the criticisms of others, you shouldn’t be writing at all.

Do you believe that you should be able to immediately sell what you write? If you believe that (a) your writing should be saleable, or it isn’t worth doing, and (b) you have doubts about whether it is saleable yet, then (c) you’re likely to block yourself from actually doing it.

Having wonderful ideas is not “writing” — the act of writing itself is what separates those of us who have wonderful ideas, and those of us who actually become writers.

How do you get past the feeling? The first answer is “you don’t.” You write in spite of the feeling. You acknowledge the butterflies, and write — even though it feels terrible. The only way to get past the feeling is to go through the feeling, rather than (a) waiting for it to go away or (b) trying to work around it. It’s like exercise — if you wait until you feel energetic enough to want to exercise, you’ll never do it.

That’s the first answer, but here’s another — if the act of writing ties you up in knots, try an approach that you are already using with some success: Dictating. There’s no law that says that “writing” actually has to be done with fingers and keyboard (at least to start). If you have a great idea, dictate it onto tape. Then, transcribe the tape. Once you’ve done so, you will have already achieved the basic act of “recording” your idea — now you no longer have have to worry about “writing” and can concentrate on editing and polishing what you’ve already created.

Another option is to look into software that allows you to dictate directly to your computer. In this way, you bypass the taping-and-transcription steps; the computer “types” your words as you dictate. Many people find this very useful — many find it easier to “tell” a story orally than to “type” it physically. You may be such a person. The software requires some time to “break in” (you’ll get some amusing results in the early stages), but I’ve heard that once you’ve become accustomed to it (and it to you), it works quite well.

Don’t be afraid of fear. It’s natural; it won’t hurt you. The only thing that will hurt you is letting that fear rob you of the joy of creating.

Copyright © 2001 Moira Allen

Article borrowed from

I hope the above article helps you get past that obstacle all writers must face. In the meantime, why don’t we walk into the gallery of writings and have a look at this week’s works. This week, all our writers are ladies!

We will begin with a continuation of Love Story in Diversions by Rayhab Gachango: Angela was the female singer and dancer for the band. She had moves like Shakira and had a full African figure. Big breasts and big hips.

Then we visit one family in The Love of One Family by Mary Kariuki: She had three children and her tummy had never been the same, it had gone from being flat, that had been one of the things that Mark had liked about her.

We close the gallery for the day with a review of News made in Kenya by Faith Oneya: The first thing a die-hard Heartstrings fan will notice when the first scene opens is that the narrator is not Larry Asego.

Thank you for your continued support. If you would like your story to feature here, please send in your work to refer to the blog submission guidelines here.

Join us here on Monday for the next batch of stories and be sure to vote for the next Story of the Week.

Have an excellent week!



This entry was posted on April 12, 2010 by in Writing.
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