What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “writing anxiety”? The article you have just started reading deals with this very concept that may be so familiar to many people involved in writing. Writing anxiety is a special state of mind (or is a special feeling) when a person cannot focus on writing and start doing it because of being nervous or anxious. Usually, these negative emotions and feelings are provoked by the writer’s overthinking, particularly forecasting what the result will be like. As a rule, writers who are suffering from writing anxiety, or a writer’s block, have negative thoughts about their work outcomes. If this state is also similar to you, read on the article in order to find out some background information about this writing anxiety phenomenon as well as ways of coping with it.
What should be mentioned about writing anxiety and writer’s block is that these phenomena are temporary. They are neither innate not permanent. It depends on a specific situation and your state of mind whether you are prone to experiencing a writer’s block in your life.
When does writing anxiety mostly occur?
The first case when you may be susceptible to writing anxiety, or writer’s block, is when you are experiencing a kind of stressful period in your life. For example, first-year students are really prone to writing anxiety as they are not confident in their writing skills. Second, one may encounter writing anxiety when he/ she has some new experience ahead, namely public speaking or presentation of an essay in front of a huge audience. In such cases, writers are afraid of being criticized or judged. On the whole, the reasons are really individual and they are numerous. Still, an important thing is to focus on how to deal with this state of mind.
How to Cope with Writing Anxiety?
Find proper support.
Make sure you have a person who can support, encourage, and motivate you when you have your down-periods in life. It can even be a writing buddy, a flatmate, a groupmate or a family member. It is really important to have somebody to share your feelings and anxieties with as well as to share moments of your successes. Moreover, if this support person is also good at writing, you can even rely on his/ her expert opinion on your papers before you submit them to the professor.
Focus on your strengths.
In moments of depression or anxiety, people usually focus on the negative things in life. For example, they tend to see only weaknesses in them and they focus on what they cannot do rather on what they can actually do. As such, if you notice that such patterns of behavior also exist in you, it is important to change them in a timely manner. For instance, try focusing on your strengths and the things you do well. You may even ask a friend to help you compose a list of what you are good at.
Admit that writing is a complex process that requires time and effort.
If you have written an essay, or a movie review, or a case study, etc, and got a bad mark, it is definitely not the reason to be totally disappointed and discouraged. You need to admit to yourself that writing is a process that demands gradual and lengthy training and practice. You cannot learn how to write all types of essays perfectly if you have little practice.
In moments of failure think of yourself as an apprentice.
If you have failed in some assignment because it was the first time you did it, treat this occurrence as a boosting period that will urge and motivate you to perform better the next time. Whenever you do something new, think of yourself as an apprentice who is acquiring new skills.
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Ways of Learning about New Types of Writing
Derive knowledge and experience from more experienced people.
Here you may communicate with someone who you consider to be more knowledgeable and successful in writing and ask him/ her for a piece of advice regarding the current situation with your writing progress. From such type of communication, you may get much valuable information about the learning strategies as well as get precise answers to more practical and down-to-earth questions regarding writing.
Search for specific writing examples and templates.
You can search for such templates online or ask your professor to provide you with some samples. When looking through samples, pay attention to some patterns and rules of writing. Pay attention to specific structures and forms of writing. Moreover, practice some new approaches to writing. Take into account how a specific writer starts writing an essay, how he/ she develops the main body and provides supporting evidence for the claims and arguments, and how he/ she closes the essay. Make sure you read papers in specific research areas to know how different types of writing differ across different disciplines.
Listen to your readers’ feedback.
Do not dismiss at once, what your readers have said about your essay. Just try to accept both criticism and acceptance alike. If there are specific comments, read them and understand the message of each comment. Try to answer the question as to why the reader was not satisfied with what he/ she has read, how the essay can be improved, etc.
Search for some other writing strategies or tactics when you find yourself in the dead end.
As a rule, writing anxiety or writer’s block appears in some specific point of your writing experience. Another reason is that you may be stuck particularly at a specific stage of writing, for example, coming up with a topic, brainstorming, devising an outline, reviewing literature, writing, revising, editing, etc. Try to notice the stage where you got stuck and try to analyze why you cannot move forward and move on to the next stage. As a way out, you may try to ask your friends or your writing buddies what they do on the writing stage that you find the most challenging. Thus, you may be able to compare and contrast your way of handling that stage with theirs.
Make sure you accept your success and celebrate it.
It often happens that people underestimate or even ignore moments when they achieve success. On the other hand, whenever they fail, they think about it for long. Therefore, try to recollect in your memory all moments connected with your writing experience when you managed to succeed. This strategy may help you overcome potential challenges, complexities, and failures.
Get ample support.
Yes, you are right. This is the second time this strategy is mentioned here in the article but it is definitely worth it. Support is really important for any person regardless of what type of activity he/ she is involved in: writing, dancing, singing, whatsoever. Having a mentor who inspires and motivates is really great. If you cannot find a real person so far, try looking for some support online and read some motivational blogs, articles, interviews, etc.
It is really common and natural to be nervous and anxious when you have some serious writing project or just a writing assignment that will be decisive for your final grade or overall academic performance. There is really much pressure whenever we are expected to perform well. Therefore, it is essential to have a set of strategies that can help you get out of that mind trap. Hopefully, the tips presented in the article above will come in handy in your academic life.