For the past five months, I’ve gone to bed almost every Sunday with a great fear. This fear hasn’t been death or snakes or realizing I have a health issue; every Sunday I fear facing my coworker Courtney on Monday.
Relentless, passionate, and very task-oriented, Courtney manages our content, including what gets published on our blog. She is excellent at her job and part of it, much to my dismay, is making sure that everyone is writing blogs. I am a frequent culprit of late blog submissions and missing blogs, and the fact that our desks are in close proximity means I can’t hide.
But I wonder – why is writing so hard for me?
Pushed into a panic by my sixth offense (another late blog) and dreading the confrontation, I wrote a blog about something I genuinely want to know more about. If creating great content should be at the center of your marketing, how do you get over the fear of writing and get to the writing?
Following is a brief exploration of why it’s so hard to write, ways to get over the fear, and how to congratulate yourself once you have.
Why is writing so hard?
Before writing a blog, I flirt with different topics. I think, “What would someone want to read?” That’s when the panic sets in – what hasn’t been written? There’s SOOOO MUCH CONTENT, and I have nothing new to say.
If your writing process also begins with panic, dread, and self-doubt, let me calm your fears by telling you one simple way to get over it:
Realize that what you’re about to say has been said before.
There! I said it. Your topic has been covered; the internet is a great big ocean with thousands of writer fish, many of whom swim around and write all day, every day. Stop pressuring yourself to find an innovative, unique idea, because if you can let go of the pressure to write the NEXT BIG THOUGHT, you may stand a chance.
After releasing this pressure, the next step is to decide what you’d like to write. For this, my suggestion is simple: what do you have a unique perspective about? What has been your personal experience regarding a topic? Find a relatable and true-to-you way of discussing it.
For me, talking about things like writing is made bearable by the fact that I can be honest about despising it – and that I can pretend you, the reader, hate it as much as I do, so we have something in common.
One of the magical byproducts of writing in your own style and voice is that no other author has them. Your style, your voice, your perspective, your comparisons; the topic has been written about at length, but has anyone done it your way? Probably not!
I’ve also noticed that my hesitation to write is often linked to my fear of failing or being judged harshly on my writing. In this new age of content, having no one read your words is both comforting and devastating. After you’ve put yourself out there, you can easily be demoralized by polarizing opinions, mean-spirited trolls, or, worst of all, the permanence of what you publish. I don’t write for the same reason I rarely post on social media: the fear of being judged.
To summarize this section:
- Stop thinking everything you write needs to be innovative
- Choose a topic you care about
- Write about that topic in your natural style
- Dare to put yourself out there
Ways to get over your fear
You probably know the best way to not get over your fear is PROCRASTINATION.
That’s right. I’ve procrastinated for months, but the task is still here. And still scary. So, spoiler alert: procrastinating doesn’t work.
- Choosing a topic you care about, something you have a unique experience with. For me, this blog comes naturally because I’m intimately familiar with the fear of my coworker’s request.
- Using a topic generator. I know, I know. Some of the suggested topics make no sense – but the word associations may trigger ideas you could turn on their heads and explore from a different angle.
- Phoning a friend. You can always ask your colleagues for topic ideas. Maybe they have questions your expertise can answer – and if your colleagues have questions, other people do, too!
- Writing. The only way you’ll write is by writing. Sit in front of your keyboard and start putting words on the page. Ask yourself a question and write down your thoughts – no structure needed – then review your writing to see if you can find something useful. You may surprise yourself!
Try the above to get you going, but again, resist the urge to procrastinate, lest you end up five months later writing about why it’s hard to write.
It’s important to congratulate yourself on your accomplishments, especially when it’s been torturous to get them!
- Patting yourself on the back
- Realizing you can write a follow-up blog, which saves you from the burden of finding another topic
- Drinking hot coffee
- Or like me by creating a boomerang!
- Realizing it wasn’t as hard as you thought
Writing doesn’t come naturally to many of us. For me, it’s a dreaded task. However, I’ve found that when I write, I learn something new, or discover something about myself, or realize that failure is a big part of success.
If you need help with writing for your company – blogs, social media, web content, and more – talk with our team. We (well, not I) can help!