How I Overcame My Fear of Writing (And How You Can Too)
I’m a writer.
There’s no doubt about it.
I enjoy writing and cannot imagine ‘not writing’.
But it hasn’t always been that way. I nursed a fear which I eventually got over. Never would I have admitted to it, or even recognised it at that time.
Let’s rewind back to the little ME.
Once upon a time..
I had great love for pencils.
And stationery in general.
My huge collection of short pencils kept growing but I couldn’t bear for them to be thrown away.
So I would hide them in safety. *Or so I thought*. Then try to use them till the final exhaustion point.
Thinking back I can’t remember throwing them away with my own hands. Someone must have carried out that task out on my behalf. I loved my writing and colouring materials and safeguarded them as my special toys.
The story continues…
This love matured and developed into love of words through my teens and 20s. I loved reading and writing. Maybe, reading more than writing because I had all the encouragement and tools to become an avid reader.
I was surrounded by books. And I was never discouraged from using my monthly savings to buy books of my choice.
So I explored and explored – I & my ‘partner-in-reading’ younger sister.
My writing probably matured later because I wasn’t very confident with expressing ideas from inside out into the world. Also, being a person of few words I hardly engaged in what seemed to be long endless one-on-one chats with others as did many of my loved ones and mates from school.
I felt much safer reading and getting lost in a world of imagination and ideas. While I felt unsafe with any form of self expression.
The writing confidence came much later and this sprung mostly out of the need to do dawah. The more I learned about Islam, the more I felt compelled to spread wise beneficial words as well as share gems from my never ending learning adventures.
Having dawah in mind, writing felt safe and private to me [*in my introverted thinking*] since I could hide away behind my keyboard/notepad without any direct interactions. I craved that privacy and hid away my writing to safeguard that privacy.
It was a wrong mindset, but it helped jump-start my writing.
I wrote and wrote but kept it all private, sealed and stored for my eyes only.
Are you ready for the secret code for overcoming those inner fears?
Its no rocket science, sorry to disappoint you.
Here’s what I did (not in this particular order) to overcome my fear of writing and self expression.
- I psyched myself.
- I read and observed other writers work (the good, the bad and the so-so).
- I practiced with my writing, while trying to build sustainable habits. I tried many experiments and challenges – using words counts, giving dedicated time to writing etc.
- I shared my work and became open to critique – I experimented with a wordpress blog.
- I made supplication for beneficial writing – the type that will serve as sadaqatul jaariyah, inspiring hearts and developing others beyond my lifetime.
- I called it dawah and felt motived by the rewards instead of the pains and discomfort.
- I invested time and money into learning about the art of writing and blogging.
My journey so far…
Today, I cannot imagine NOT writing.
I have notebooks upon notebooks, filled with words from my thoughts, learning and reflections. But the writing does not stop.
The fear has lessened to a negligible degree and only pops up when I embark on a new writing adventure such I when decided to start blogging, tried guest posting, wrote my first e-book or did my first interview.
I now feel joy, excitement, humility and fulfilment with each word I put down whether it gets shared with the world or not.
The surprising thing is, a lot of my writing gets shared (‘copied’ may be a better word) across the net – especially on dawah related sites but without correct acknowledgement. I have also overcome the anger and disbelief at such daring act of plagiarism.
Still in search of balance…
I find myself writing these days much more than I read. I keep trying to maintain a balance but I’m not sure how I will make it or when in sha Allah. If you have a formula for attaining a writing/reading balance, please send a shout out to the needy ones – including me.
I support and encourage children, youth and adults with developing their writing and reading skills – whether they are professionals, students or creatives.
Mastering one’s writing through daily practice so it becomes a habit is a noteworthy step towards self growth & development.
Reading expands the mind, thinking and world view as well as understanding of new concepts and increasing one’s knowledge base
When I read, I feel intellectually charged and invigorated and mentally alert (I can’t say so for all books).
When I write, I feel creatively refreshed because some ideas and thoughts have found their way out while new ones keep surfacing and swimming freely.
It is like opening a tap… first its a little drop and then gradually it gains full speed and a steady flow. That’s how ideas gush out when you give yourself the time and opportunity to write and explore different ideas.
When you combine these two activities in your life – reading and writing – you can never imagine the power and force of your ideas as they gush through, finding an exit route and a welcome opportunity to impact other minds, hearts and ultimately lives.
Yes, that’s the power of words. Whether they are written, explored internally, spoken, imagined, read or discussed/engaged with.
No excuses please…
You may argue that you struggle with perfectionism and scatterbrain from too many ideas. But be true to yourself, it may be *fear* still holding you back.
Pick one writing idea or challenge and get working on it.
Do all you can. And use the following points as daily motivators.
– Make dua plentifully.
– Psyche yourself over and over.
– Find time to read and research other writings.
– Read books, visit writers’ blogs and sign up to their mailing lists.
– Engage with other writers/ writing communities.
– Put your writing under your tasks and call it label it as dawah. Assign time to it as you would your studies, business or chores.
– Find time to write regularly and share your writing especially with other writers. Open your heart to getting feedback on what you’ve written.
– Ask yourself why you write (or why you want to start writing).
Crush that fear so the Ummah can benefit from your unique voice. And you also get to experience how it feels to write without the strong shackles of fear closing in on you.
You are welcome to join me on the other side of the fear bridge as you take little steps towards overcoming your own fear of writing.
Now over to you… Please share what first step you plan to take towards overcoming your fear of writing. Crush that fear with a comment below.
Image via Pixabay