How To Overcome Your Fear Of Writing

fear of writing, afraid to write

Do you know what one of the biggest obstacles to any content marketer is? Fear. Fear can be so crippling to your content marketing efforts that no matter how good the strategies are you have in place, it may all be for nothing. Some content marketers may fear the technical aspects like coding.

fear of writing, afraid to write

However, one of the most common fears I come across people having, is the fear of writing.

The Fear of Writing Has a Name?

Strange, isn’t it? But yes, it is so common that there is a name for this fear: graphophobia.

Graphophobia can be understood in one of two ways. Some people suffering from this are afraid of the writing itself. Not the act of writing but the actual words on paper. However, for a writer, the fear of writing may be a lot less obvious but as crippling.

When publishing my first book, I was very excited to finally see the fruit of my labour hit the presses. It was both exciting and scary at the same time. After all, as a writer you lay a part of your soul bare to others.

Lo and behold, something went drastically wrong. The e-book version of my book was published from the raw copy. No editing or even spell check had been done on it. Hundreds of people read my book before I realized that anything was wrong. I was horrified and took to Facebook and Twitter to apologise to my readers.

All but one who replied to me, let me know how much they had enjoyed reading the book and that they found it inspirational. In fact, most said they never noticed any mistakes (I still think they lied to make me feel better).

But there always has to be one. A ‘friend’ immediately took it upon herself to let me know in no uncertain terms how terrible my writing was and how little she thought of me as a writer.

She went through my book page by page, highlighting every spelling and grammatical error. She went as far as to explain to me what the correct grammar rule in each case was. I have to admit that I still don’t understand some of her explanations.

Her e-mail was almost as long as the book itself and she didn’t stop there. In a second e-mail she started pulling apart every sentence I had ever written on social media, even social messages to friends and family on my personal Facebook account.

Since English is my second language (no excuse when you’re a writer!) I was now more unsure of my writing than I was in Grade 2. I wrote her a nice e-mail thanking her for her input, joking that I may need her as a proofreader – like I would ever let that happen! She wrote back to me, saying that she had found something wrong in the way I wrote a sentence in my apology e-mail.

Apparently a word I used was anย Americanismย and not proper English.

That was the last straw. I shut my laptop down, closed all my social media accounts on my phone and found a comfortable spot in front of the television. It did not matter what hundreds of people said; her negative remarks overshadowed everything for me.

I was afraid to write anything. My fear of writing had taken over my life. I wasn’t a writer anymore.

It took a few weeks before my husband realized that I hadn’t written anything. Being my greatest supporter as well as my fiercest taskmaster, he sat me down and told me a few home truths. He wasn’t having any of it. He wasn’t going to allow me to bury my dream of writing because I was afraid.

You Have to Overcome Your Fear of Writing

The best way to overcome your fear of writing is to write. As simple as that.

There are different reasons why content marketers are afraid to write. You may feel that your writing isn’t good enough or that your blog may fail and people will see you as a failure. So what?

For every person who has the courage to overcome their fear of writing, put hand on paper – or laptop – and start writing that content, there are hundreds out there who don’t have the courage to open themselves up to criticism like that.

Writing is hard work and no matter how hard you try, you are sometimes going to make mistakes. But don’t let that stop you. When you fail, you try again. And again. How can you stick to your New Years Revolutionsย and keep your writing goals if you’re afraid to write?

One day you will count the negative feedback and compare it to the positives and you will see that the positives far outweigh the negatives.

If all else fails and you know that your blog can work and that it is just your fear of writing stopping you, why not consider hiring a freelance writer? There is no shame in paying someone else to write on your behalf. The beauty of such an arrangement is that nobody will ever know that it isn’t your own writing.

Like the popular quote says: the only thing to fear is fear itself. Put your fear of writing aside, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and write!


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  1. Catherine Holt

    January 9, 2014 at 7:08 am

    It’s amazing how our fear can hold us back, and sometimes we don’t even realize it is happening! Unfortunately friends can also be our biggest critics and give us ‘less break’s’, but if we can overcome the fear, we can use that to drive us further forward and be even more successful. Embrace the fear and dive into the pool!!

    • Elmarie Porthouse

      January 9, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Catherine, I like your idea to embrace the fear. I think it was Maya Angelou who said, “do it scared.” So we shouldn’t wait until the fear goes away. Like you said, dive into the pool!

  2. Jiyan Nicdao

    January 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    This is a nice article Elmarie, not only it applies to writing but also in life in general. You don’t have to stop breathing just because someone told you something bad about life, there are other people who appreciates your existence so live for those who appreciate and love you.. Same as write for those who value your thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Elmarie Porthouse

      January 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Jiyan, that is so well put! I never thought that it applies to life as well but it absolutely does. Today you have given me food for thought, sweet girl ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Dorothy

    January 7, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Wow! I’ve learned new something today. Graphophobia.
    I think I have this kind of fear too, I’m scared of the readers feedback, especially my grammar and how I deliver the message but there’s no harm in trying and trying until we improve to write.

    ps. Love the quote!

    • Elmarie Porthouse

      January 7, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Dorothy, I think all writers struggle with a fear of being criticized at some point or another. At least now, if they say something negative about your writing, you can know mine was a lot worse ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Catherine Giray

    January 7, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I’ve heard about writer’s block and just don’t like writing, but fear of writing, and it has a name? Glad to learn something new today. Thanks for sharing this article Elmarie! It’s very interesting.

    • Elmarie Porthouse

      January 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Catherine, we all need to keep learning. Just don’t get afraid of writing now! ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Patrick

    January 7, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks for enlightening us on this. At times, most of us have this phobia. We only need to start our article and see through it till the end. That’s the only way we can overcome and finish a good article.

    • Elmarie Porthouse

      January 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      Patrick,I don’t think you’re human if you are never scared of what others may think or say. Like you say, just start your article and see it through to the end.


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