This is a guest post from Dave Navarro, a crack writer we can all learn from.
If you’ve ever held back from writing because at some level you’re feeling intimidated, you’re not alone. Thousands, if not millions of writers hear the same voice in their heads:
- “I could never write as well as _____ can.”
- “What could I say that hasn’t already been said by someone else (or worse, said better)?”
- “I don’t know if I can keep up a writing schedule.”
- “What if nobody likes what I’m writing, or thinks I’m an amateur?”
You know the voice I’m talking about. You’ve heard it. But you have to tell it to shut the hell up, because it does nothing to help you move forward. All it does is keep you from writing with power (or worse, from writing at all).
If you want to silence that voice forever, here are 3 steps to shut it down and write without intimidation for the rest of your life.
Step One: Remind Yourself That Someone Needs Your Wisdom
It’s easy to look at someone who is at the top of your field and feel intimidated. On the ubiquitous “1 to 10” scale, they may be a 10 where you’re only a humble 5. How can you compete? How can you not feel intimidated? Easy. Remind yourself that there are people out there who are 4s, 3s, 2s, 1s and even 0s who can gain instant benefit from what you write and become your fans. There may even be some 6s and 7s who read what you write, and they’re reminded to strengthen the fundamentals from what you write, remembering what got them to where they are now.
Bottom line: You don’t have to be a 10 in your field to be just what your readers need. Remind yourself of that.
Step Two: Remind Yourself Someone Wants Your Story
People can’t get enough of reading stories. They crave them more than facts (and they’re even hungrier when you combine the two). Whatever you’re writing about, you have a unique angle, a filter based on your own experiences that colors whatever it is you’re writing. Write from there, and people will connect. Bridge the subject matter with your experiences and you’re automatically writing something fresh and new. Think of the blogs you love to read – you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
Bottom Line: Even if you think you’re boring, other people don’t. Remind yourself that they crave the perspective of others in the same way that you do.
Step Three: Remind Yourself To Write For The Garbage Can
Steve Allen came up with this one, so I can’t take credit. But I follow this advice like crazy. When I sit down to write, I don’t try to create a masterpiece. I just sit down and slam out honest content without any regard to how it sounds. Editing can always happen later, after you let your creative energy pour out. Sometimes what I write is really good (in my opinion, at least). Sometimes it’s utter crap. But writing is like strength training – the more you do it, the better you get. Some days you’re pumped after a workout, and some days you’re trashed by it. But in the long run, you get better as long as you keep trying.
Bottom line: The only way to get past writing poorly is to write poorly a lot. Remind yourself that the goal of practice is progress (not perfection!)
Bonus Step Four: Remind Yourself That You Are Your Own Worst Critic
Remember that you are not your audience, and you’ll often hate the passages that your readers love. Case in point: All four of my posts that hit the Digg frontpage were ones I didn’t like (and in fact, 3 of them were ‘write for the garbage can’ posts). But they resonated with readers, probably because I wasn’t worrying about impressing them or looking like an authority figure – I just focused on adding what value to whatever I could at the level I was at.
Bottom line: Don’t stress – people like you more than you think. Remind yourself that you don’t judge other people’s writing as harshly as you do your own.
Now You’re Ready For A Life Of Writing Without Intimidation
If you’ve read this far, you know exactly what to do to erase intimidation whenever it rears its ugly head. And if you’ve really been paying attention, you’ve seen how I’ve used referenced all four of these tips in this article.
If you like what you’ve read (or you’ve got your own story to tell) let’s hear it in the comments. And take a moment to subscribe to my feed to get more tips like this.