If you ask, most people will say they hate writing. If you dig down deep enough, you’ll find that this dislike is based on fear – the fear of failure.
“Oh, Annette, you can’t possibly understand since you love to write!” you’d say.
Yes, I do love to write and, at the risk of hubris, I’d say I’m really good at it. Yet I can fully understand why people would fear failing at writing. It’s not just because I know that good writing requires organization and a borderline insane attention to detail. I have a deep empathy because I feel the same way about math.
Honestly, I try to convince myself my brain is not wired for mathematical processes. I have to work exceedingly hard at math, and the concepts refuse to stick in my head.
I think this is the way most of my writing students feel. The good news is that we can all overcome our fear of writing (or math) with hard work.
Here are a few “secrets” to becoming better writers and quelling that fear:
- Make sure you allot enough time for writing. No one I know can pluck perfect writing from thin air on a moment’s notice. It’s never right, and hurried writing stands out like a dog at a cat show.
- Learn to organize ideas. Good writing means transferring information to others. Good writers lay down a path with their ideas that readers can follow. (Think Yellow Brick Road.)
- Pay attention to the details. Yes, grammar and proper usage are important, just like the steelwork for a bridge is important. You don’t think about it, but if it’s poorly done, it can sure spell disaster!
- Nothing is perfect the first time. Understand that and deal with it. The brunt of good writing is in revision. Just like a muscle car taken out of mothballs, writing needs a good polishing to attract admirers.
- Anything you want to master – a musical instrument, a sport, or a skill – requires practice to make you better. Writing (or math) is no different. The more we practice, the more we become comfortable with it. The more comfortable we are, the less likely we are to fear it.
Anyone can become a good, solid writer.
I’ll make a deal with you: If you try to do more writing, I’ll do more math. I may never come to love math or dive into Sudoku, but I may just get over my fear.