Shouldn’t You Be Writing? The Real Reason Writers Avoid The Blank Page

"All writing problems are psychological problems." ~ Erica Jong

“All writing problems are psychological problems.” ~ Erica Jong

We writers are an imaginative, intelligent bunch. But instead of using our super-powers to finish writing the most kick-ass story ever, we often apply our cunning to the art of avoidance. We can always find an excuse. Pinterest “research.” Social media promoting. Cleaning the house. The quest to find the perfect pen. Personally, I’m partial to whittling away hours at a time making spiffy teasers and graphics like these:

raven in gray teaser

Dharma and Desire Teaser

Raven in Gray







And by the way, you can hire me to make spiffy graphics and teasers for you, too! Please, PLEASE give me something else to do besides facing the page.

We all do it. Anything to avoid doing the words. Sometimes our avoidance tactics are not even conscious. We rationalize our excuses, convincing ourselves that they’re real. If we’re so intelligent, why do we do that?

Because we aren’t even aware WHY we are running away. 

When it comes down to it, there’s only one reason. Fear. Big fat, stinking, slinky, fear.

Writers block is a misnomer. What is called writers block is almost always ordinary fear. ~ Tom Wolfe

We already talked about how scary it is to be honest and authentic in our writing. But the fear of exposure is only one of many fears.

Maybe we also fear…

We won’t be able to finish the book.

We aren’t good enough. We aren’t a “real writer.”

Nobody will want to read what we write.

We’ll go broke if we devote ourselves to our writing.

Complete failure.

Total success. (Yes, that can be scary too.)

We’ll find things deep inside that we don’t want to see.

And a dozen other things that are personal to us.

So now that we understand that fear is always beneath our avoidance, how can we conquer it? Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news… but we can’t. We can only develop a new relationship with our fear.

Don’t underestimate the power of recognizing your fears.

When our fears are unconscious we get ants in the pants, and do everything in our power to escape that feeling. Once we recognize our fear, name it, and claim power over it (it’s just an emotion after all,) we can pull up our big-girl panties (or big-boy boxers,) sit down and write despite the ants in our pants. 

In order to gain more consciousness around our fears, I recommend writing them out – along with the worst case scenario should our fears come true. Be imaginative and overly dramatic about it. This will give you awareness of your fears as well as help you see that perhaps some of them aren’t even valid (or at least, they are blown out of proportion.)

Remember, courage doesn’t equal fearlessness.

We can face the page, filled to the brim with fear, and still do the words. We all have similar fears. We are all scared we aren’t good enough. But do you want to know what makes a “real writer”? The act of writing despite fears.

So pull up those panties or boxers, recognize the monsters in the closet, and do the words anyway. Your story needs you.

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  1. says

    Thank you for this piece. I am a copy and article writer rather than a fiction writer, but this still applies! In fact, I am doing exactly what you mentioned – scrolling Pinterest looking for writing encouragement rather than doing the assignment I’m supposed to be working on. But, you helped me name my fear: thinking I won’t be able to self-educate on the subject matter. Now that I know the fear I can respond to it, It’s not that I won’t be able to understand it, it’s that I won’t be able to understand it within the short time frame I want to so that I can have the project over and done with!

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