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Overcome Your Fear of Writing

Apr 23, 2008
In the internet age writing has re-established itself as an important form of communication. As a writer, I still find it sad and surprising that many seem to fear the act of putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard.

Pianists practice at the piano. Tennis players practice at the net. Athletes practice at the track. They all recognise that skills need to be developed and honed if they are to be maintained.

There is actually no simpler process than writing. I know you will find that hard to believe but all writers do is to take their ideas and translate them into squiggles on paper, or a computer screen. The challenge for anyone wanting to write is to distinguish between thoughts that could be useful and thoughts which are just the background noise created by life.

What is good writing? All answers to this would be subjective and therefore varied. It is probably easier to say what is bad writing. For me, any writing that can be read easily, that is unambiguous and that imparts something interesting or essential, is good.

Writers need to maintain a fine balance between time spent on planning and research and time spent on writing. All writers will have a preference and will need to compensate in the area in which they do not spend sufficient time. Too much of either is not a good thing.

Writing styles vary, which is considered to be a good thing by readers. There's the matter of personal writing style combined with the style most appropriate for the piece being written. These two variables alone combine to produce a rich diversity in the written word.

I have personal preferences about what I read. I am sure you do too. I delight in being made to stop and think. I don't want to puzzle over the meaning of a too long sentence or a 4 syllable word. I want to read words that challenge my preconceived ideas. I want to be entertained. I want to merge with the words and experience them.

Making time to read is a big investment - we are all busy and could fill every hour at least three times over. It is disappointing therefore to feel let down when we allocate our most scarce resource, time, and then feel we have wasted it. For this reason whatever you write needs to provide value.

We've touched on planning, researching and writing but that is not the end of the matter. A finished piece that a reader will value needs further attention from the much talked about blue pencil. Work that has been edited is always easy to spot simply because the quality is so much higher.

Some confuse editing with proofreading when in reality they are two different processes. A proof reader looks for errors. An editor looks for opportunities to improve the text by shortening sentences, removing adverbs and adjectives and removing ambiguities. Editing is the process which turns a manuscript into a masterpiece.

You would expect a writer to be enthusiastic about the process of writing. However, I am more than enthusiastic, I am passionate about the written word and the good it can do. Don't under estimate the power of something as simple as a written thank you note, as an example, for it will be treasured far more than a telephone call. Will you pick up your pen and begin to write? I so hope you do.
About the Author
Jessica R Hartley provides a free online writing course and writers forum to encourage everyone who wants to write. An experienced writer she is passionate about encouraging writing skills in others.
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