The number one thing preventing you from completing that manuscript?

FEAR.

Getting your words on paper is one thing, but dealing with all of the scary feelings you have about doing so is another.

No matter how many online or in-person classes you take, you will never accomplish your writing goals unless you first deal with that dreaded four letter F-word.

Creativity coach Robert Ressler, Ph.D. says, “Fear is behind all the things that we sometimes describe as our problem.” These are problems you might label as writer’s block, procrastination, the inability to complete a project, being undisciplined. Ressler says that underneath that is our fear of being judged, ridiculed, humiliated. 

If you have ever been made fun of in school, you understand what he means.

I had a high school teacher who used to read every student’s paper aloud including their names. He would then rip the paper apart the one’s he hate (we believed he particularly dislike girls), attacking each sentence one by one. Sometimes when he really hated it, he would pause, frown and say, “Oh, this is really bad!”

He particularly hated me and my writing. Once he called me to his desk to not only tell me that I was a “bad writer,” but that I was an “airhead” to boot. On a happy note, on that same day I also received a journalism award and a scholarship. Kung Fu Panda chop that Mr. Mean Teacher!

The good thing about coaches is that they help you deal with all that stuff, the baggage that keeps you from being as successful as you want to be.

Writer coach Marla Beck talks about how creative blocks and self-sabotaging thoughts are all linked with the limitations we have for ourselves. Unconscious or conscious they can prevent us from achieving our goals. Beck says the key to dealing with any challenge is “knowing what’s possible.” Sometimes we feel stuck because we don’t see the hidden door.

“I find that a lot of the blocks disappear once people get very clear about what they would like to accomplish and once they start to believe that it’s possible and once they take action. And coaching provides people with the accountability and the structure to do just that.” – Marla Beck

So what do you do with all your “gremlins?” {Something Beck defines as “writing blocks or other creative writing blocks.”} Awareness of what’s scaring us is one part of the process. Being conscious of the part of ourselves that is just trying to protect us from our own inner Mr. Mean Teachers can take the mystery out of our inhibitions. According to Beck,”Once you know this type of blocks that rise for you and when they happen and what conditions correlate, you can start responding differently and take charge and not be ruled by them so much.”

Ressler helps creatives do so by using “various imaginative techniques to become more aware of the source of their fears and inhibitions and to see them as misguided efforts to protect themselves from embarrassment or harm.”

Beck works “with concrete strategies and systems helping [writers] to create systems that work for them. A lot of the work that I do with people is also the inner work giving them different ways to reframe a situation so they feel positive, confident and empowered, giving people permission to play on the page.”

They both have their unique style of coaching. But ultimately both and all creative and writing coaches share a common purpose of supporting you and your creative endeavors.

Have you ever used a coach in a past to help boost your writing confidence? Support you on your journey as writer? Feel free to plug your favorite coach here.

Also, if you would like more information on their services, please visit Robert Ressler, Ph.D. on his website Creativity Support. He offers phone and in-person coaching and teaches workshops and classes in San Francisco. Writer coach Marla Beck offers various coaching packages, services and teleclasses. You can check out her website here. Thank you to both of them for providing such informative answers on coaching!

  • I love this! It resonated with me. I just finished and submitted a book proposal, after years of worrying about what people would think of my ideas and energy. It’s funny because growing up, I was praised for my writing. My fears came from adulthood when I was told I was subpar as a writer in college in a weeder history course. I learned to get over that one! But, recently, a Devil Wears Prada type of lady wanted me to blog for her website (a group of blogs on it). I submitted my writing and she shredded me much like your teacher did that you described in the beginning. I realized I couldn’t work with someone like that. I told her I’d get back to her. I then rejected her, and she was angry since she had spent an hour with me on my writing. Ha! I didn’t respond, but I was thinking, “Oh, wait, your time is more valuable than mine?” I am learning that rejection or ick can be a part of being a writer, but writing means too much to me to stop. I notice if I write, the fear goes away. The more I hit “publish” on my blog, the more I feel at ease. Thanks for this wonderful post.

  • brandiwplogin

    Hi Lisa!

    Congrats on submitting your book proposal! What a tremendous accomplishment!!

    Sorry to hear about the Devil Wears Prada lady. I too have had more than my fair share. What you mentioned about listening to your voice and then following it is inspiring to me. It’s what I’m learning to do-weed out the ones that don’t fit faster.

    It’s a difficult journey, but wonderful to have the support of others also walking on it. Thanks so much for your comment Lisa!

  • Hi Brandi,
    Your point about hiring a coach for a particular area in life that you are blocking is a solid one. It’s given me something to think about!
    Sherrie

  • brandiwplogin

    Aw that’s always a solid comment to get. Always hope that when I post something it gives someone a new way to think about something. Thanks so much for letting me know Sherrie!

  • Great post, Brandi. And I love the Kung-Fu Panda Chop. It’s the sweetest form of revenge. It reminds me of a time when I applied for a position that was a higher level within my company.

    It became obvious that they had someone specific in mind and were going through the motions. They had to give a reason for not offering the position. What did they put on mine? Does not have communications skills. My position at the time? Manager of Marketing and Communications. 😀

    Good thing I didn’t let that stop me.

    The four-letter F word (love that) :-) is masked in many forms – I don’t have time, I have other priorities, etc. I know I am guilty of that. I need that Kung-Fu Panda Chop to my excuses. Thanks, Brandi. Must be that PI background of yours. :-)

  • brandiwplogin

    Aw karate chop them! Glad you didn’t let it stop you. Sometimes I think those obstacles are put in our way to give us the confidence we need to keep going. Glad you liked the post Cathy! And thanks for RTing it. =)

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