How to overcome the fear of judgment as a writer
Is fear holding you back, from writing and publishing your book?
Fear of failure, fear of judgement, and fear of success hold many aspiring authors from writing their first book. One of the biggest fears among writers and first-time authors is fear of judgement. You can often feel like a fraud and, as a result, end up consumed by fear, a fear that someone is going to call you out for not being an expert, but a fraud. Writing is one of those amazing things that can force you to face these fears.
What do you do when you’re so gripped with fear and can’t bear to finish your first draft or go on to the next phase of writing?
How do you overcome the fear of judgement?
It’s a journey, not a destination
Many aspiring authors who desire to write a non-fiction book put it off because they don’t feel like an expert. They believe being an expert is a destination you arrive at before you go on to teach. As I was outlining this blog post, I came across an interesting quote by Nathan Barry. He said, ‘people don’t teach because they are experts, they are experts because they teach.’ Teaching has a way of forcing you to become an expert along the way because to teach; you need to be constantly learning. Learning is a journey, and the by-product of this journey is becoming an expert.
I’ve found this to be true in my personal journey. I’m currently doing a 28-Days of blogging challenge. As a result of this challenge, I’m learning so much about how to write and publish a book. I’m also getting a deeper insight into my personal method. This challenge is giving me the confidence to teach what I know to others. It has helped me to shift my perspective from the ‘am I an expert’ mindset to focusing on learning and growing as a writer.
It’s your journey that makes you more relatable to your audience. One of the most natural things people do is self-comparison. It’s in human nature to compare ourselves to experts and gurus who share information with us. Most readers find it difficult to relate to an expert. This is because the reader’s experience is so far removed from their perception of the expert’s experience. However, when you share from personal experience you provide an opportunity for your readers to make a connection and pay attention to you.
You are not your book
Writing is a creative endeavour. Yes, even if you’re writing non-fiction. Through the process of writing, you become attached to your work. This attachment is what stops you from being objective with what you create. Your books become like children. The books we write are a reflection of where we are at, in a particular moment along our personal journey.
When someone criticises your book in the form of a review, they are not criticising you. The reviewer is criticising the decisions you’ve made along the way to create your book. Judgement and criticism are something you cannot avoid. It’s important that you don’t give too much of a platform to one voice. If you’re receiving criticism from a beta reader, take a step back and consider if you’re getting the same response from the other betas. If the majority of your beta readers are saying the same thing, then you should pay attention to it. Choose to see criticism as feedback, as others helping you to improve what you’ve written, instead of judgement on your ability as a writer.
Surround yourself with like-minded people
Unfortunately, not everyone in your life is going to understand or treat your writing aspirations seriously. Quite often, people will respond to your dream of writing a book with ‘oh, that’s cute.’ This can come across as a little condescending. When I first started out as a writer, only a few people supported my dream.
Over time, I met my boyfriend Roland who was supportive of my dreams from the second we met. His instant support comes from his love of books and a completed PhD, which means he’s written a thesis. On some level, he understands what it’s like to write a book. I’ve also added many other like-minded people to my support network. Surrounding myself with people who get me has made my writing journey a little easier. I now feel like I’m no longer alone. If you’re alone in your writing journey join support groups or organisations, where you can connect with other writers and authors.
The biggest thing you can do to help you overcome your fear of judgement is to keep writing. Stopping and giving in to your fear will only make it harder to start writing again. There are ways you can make your journey a little easier. Shift your focus from being an expert and focus on your learning journey. Change how you view criticism by looking for a pattern in feedback. It’s also important to surround yourself with like-minded people. These three tips along with continuing to write will help you to overcome your fear of judgment.
As always, I have a few important questions for you. Is fear holding you back, from writing your non-fiction book? Do you fear the judgment of readers and others around you? I want to hear from you. Let me know in the comments section below how you plan to move forward and overcome your fear of judgement.
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