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The Anxiety of a Blank Page: How to Work Up the Courage to Begin

Annmary Ibrahim

Posted on July 19, 2020 17:10

8 users

If you allow the fear of failure to stop you from beginning, you have already chosen failure.

I have no idea how to start this article, but even this nervous and unassured beginning is exactly that: a beginning. Regardless of whether it was attention-grabbing and insightful or the nervous ramblings of a victim of anxiety, it was a start.

Anyone who has ever had the wonderful displeasure of writing can understand the feeling: staring at a blank screen trying to work up the courage to begin. It is that blank screen that can be oh so dangerous as it welcomes all the daunting thoughts, "What if it sounds stupid?", "What if it's not good enough?", and "What if you're not good enough?" And so, the spiral tightens, deadlines approach and the anxiety heightens.

As much as I love writing, I often fall prey to this thought spiral, however over time I have learned that the only way to break loose of it is to do the one thing that scares you the most: begin.

While this may not seem like revolutionary advice, it is the only thing that works. So, how do we find the courage to begin?

First off, ironically it is about making it seem as if you do not need courage. You do this by making your task seem less scary: reframe it and make it seem smaller in your mind. Write in big letters, "I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING," at the top of your page, or title your work, "The Nonsense Draft." Basically, give yourself permission to suck. Once you let yourself make mistakes, you alleviate the pressure of writing, and even if your first draft sucks, editing a bad first draft is infinitely more effective than editing a blank screen.

If, however, you cannot find the words, get rid of your blank screen at all costs. Write down anything, whether relevant or not. Write an inspirational quote, or your favorite SpongeBob line, or put a funny picture at the top, do whatever it is you need to do to get rid of that formidable blank screen, even if you cannot replace it with words at the moment.

Lastly, a piece of advice for when you actually begin, write as if you are having a conversation with a person about your ideas. Sometimes talking or rambling is easier than writing. Make your first draft a dialogue or monologue about your piece then edit until you and your writing are both confident.

Anxiety and fear will always be there to inhibit progress, but the truth is if you allow the fear of failure to stop you from beginning, you have already chosen failure. A lesson in writing and in life, it is okay if your steps are not graceful and if they are unsure, as someone recently told me, all they need to be are small and persistent, because persistence is rewarded. One day along those small persistent steps you will find the courage and confidence to begin and make great strides. But for now, all you need to do is begin.

Annmary Ibrahim

Posted on July 19, 2020 17:10

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Source: HitFix
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