2 Ways to Approach the Chasm of Fear of Writing

You can approach fear with these two beliefs: Believe You’re the Goddamned Best or Let Go of Ownership

AKA, Believe You’re the Goddamned Best or Let Go of Ownership

As Gary Vaynerchuk said on his recent Hot Ones appearance, it is the new normal to be documenting, creating, recording and publishing content online. However, given we’re the first generation of people to do it, we’re still wrestling with fear, hesitance, and insecurity that we inherited from those before us.

As I alluded to in this post, fear (of failure and rejection) is the primary cause of writer’s block and the hesitation to publish your work.

To get over that fear, you need a core belief that can spur you on. The core belief takes root in you and replaces the fear that stops you. Today, I have two belief approaches that can help you get over the hump of fear.

Believe You’re The Best Goddamned Writer In This Stinking Joint

You’ve felt that feeling before. That impossible drive that is both insufferable and insatiable. Every chump with a laptop and glasses thinks they’re a writer, but you’re more honest than that.

You have a chip on your shoulder. Nobody recognizes how good you are, and you’re going to show them. If what it takes is writing 3 articles a week for the next 6 months, you’ll do it, and do it with style. And then they’ll come applauding.

The take-no-prisoners attitude of over-hyping yourself is a proven technique of success. People like Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump openly flaunt this attitude, and become their own hype machines. Using that public attention, they are able to harness power and gather people around them in support. Dictators of the past and present exist because they have a commanding charisma about them, which stems from confidence and entitlement.

Robert Downey Jr | Approach Fear of Writing
Look at that smug face.

A less extreme example is how Robert Downey Jr. carries himself. He has that aloof rogue-ish charm of someone who believes he’s entitled to the good things in life. It gets him a lot of attention from his peers and the media, who find this typically narcissistic behavior appealing instead of abrasive.

The energy that you put out into the universe comes back to you. If you believe you’re that good, a silly little thing like fear of failure will never stop you from writing and publishing. You’ll find yourself working harder to showcase your confidence and strength.

Let Go of The Feeling of Ownership of Your Content

You know the time-honored tradition of not shooting the messenger. If you let people know you’re passing on the information, as a public service, perhaps, any criticism they throw your way is invalid. You didn’t say it. Someone else did, and you passed it on.

Reasonable bias is fine. You interpreted the message in your way, but its spirit stayed. You can safely continue to be a good Samaritan and pass on useful information to people around you. If they hold you in regard because of this, all the better.

There is a certain freedom in believing that you are not the creator of your content. In a sense, it is true too. You learn facts and pick up messages from everywhere around you. You read, and you watch, and when you have processed, you write.

Your interpretation of your learned information is also shaped by the moral principles you received (or reversed) from your parents and childhood authority figures.

Parents | Approach the Fear of Writing
You inevitably either become your parents or their antithesis.

When you believe you’re passing off a good message, it can be a lot easier for you to shrug off the pressures of failure. It’s essentially a way to trick yourself into being more relaxed, so that you can write worry-free.

Storytellers and stand-up comedians mention a lot of people in their stories, inviting the audience to believe in the shared ownership of the messages being presented. Thus, they are able to project their material confidently.

Both Approaches are Equally Valid and Effective

Whether you choose to carry the chip on your shoulder or shrug the whole boulder off, the purpose is to help you shed fear and keep writing. Both free you up from the judgement of others, one by owning responsibility with abandon, and one by shirking it.

However, be careful of letting these feelings inform your writing. These are good tricks to get out of the gates. However they become hurdles once you’re on the racetrack. A sense of entitlement can quickly become reticence to work or dissatisfaction with the success achieved. A sense of surrender can devolve into lethargy and indifference.

I personally find myself using both approaches as I need them. The key is to have your goals in place, and then use an approach to get started on work. If you choose to try these, do tell me if they helped you, or if you invented a whole new approach that works for you.

Until next time, keep writing!

Why Do So Many Writers Write about Writing?

Writers tend to get comfortable in a bubble of writing about writing advice. Expand your expertise in different directions to become a better writer.

AKA A Parable of Bubbles

This article is supposed to go up on my Medium. Some day, my Medium and vaibhavgupta.net will be in perfect sync. Today is not that day. Till then, check out my Medium page if you haven’t: @VaibhavGuptaWho on Medium

Continue reading “Why Do So Many Writers Write about Writing?”

4 Things You Can Do for Your Depressed Friend

Your Roadmap to Not Being a Shitty Confidant – Learn to deal with your depressed friend with sensitivity and tact.

If you don’t know what Clinical Depression is, count yourself very lucky that you’ve never come across it. And after expressing that gratitude, educate yourself. Google it and read, because it is one of the most pervasive, intense, and shockingly commonplace illnesses we have today.

Apollo Hospitals and other sources estimate that there are over ten million cases a year in India alone. Fortunately for us, not every case is crippling in nature, requiring months of medication and therapy. Many depressed people can start their recovery processes simply by gaining access to a strong relationship.

You have the opportunity to be that strong, caring relationship for someone, and help them get their mind together, and here are four things that you should keep in mind. Continue reading “4 Things You Can Do for Your Depressed Friend”

Primal – A Short Study of Gotham City’s Scarecrow

An essay about the origin and the character traits of Batman’s Scarecrow and what makes him a great character.

We are all ruled by the flux of our emotions. We all interact with the world through the gamut of common feelings we share as a species. Of those emotions, only a few of them have the intensity to be all-pervasive, none more so than fear. It motivates us. It hinders us. Fear dominates us completely.

Perhaps that is why The Scarecrow, a villain from Batman’s rogue gallery, is particularly impressive. Continue reading “Primal – A Short Study of Gotham City’s Scarecrow”

Leveraging the Effort Reward Cycle

I talk about the Effort Reward Cycle, consistency and the one skill you need to help your content grow and find your audience (Hint: it’s honest marketing).

A/N: This is a sequel to a Medium Post I wrote. While this post addresses motivation as an effort reward cycle, the Medium post addresses the problem of feeds and throttling your own content. Check it out by clicking here!

Have you ever heard someone say something along the lines of “We live in an age of unprecedented communication and technology”? I’m sure you have.

Have you then acted upon it, by pouring your heart out into a blog article, podcast, video, or even a social media post? Then I wrote this specifically for you.

If you’re a beginner, chances are you have at most 5 to 10 people consuming your content. And because you can’t seem to grow an audience, you get demotivated and ultimately stop putting out content.

Perhaps you think you’re not good enough of a writer or artist or filmmaker or vlogger. Perhaps you think people don’t want to hear what you have to say.

That’s bullshit.

Your content doesn’t suck just because it doesn’t have an audience. Your content hasn’t found its audience.

The Effort Reward cycle

In our current capitalistic society, human beings operate best with a healthy effort reward cycle. We execute a task with an expectation of a result immediately after. We eat with the expectation of feeling satiated, attend parties with the expectation of having fun, and read with the expectation of learning.

This gets tricky when the reward is delayed or is difficult to recognize. It is why fitness is a difficult goal to accomplish – we don’t immediately see the reward in the mirror. We have to put in consistent and considerable effort over a long period of time. This is why you are likely to fail if you approach fitness with the objective of looking good or losing weight*. Since the reward doesn’t come as quickly as the effort, the well of motivation dries up.

*Instead you want to build discipline and chase the objective of feeling good, which comes as a reward much more quickly.

So how does this concept apply to content creation and dissemination? Simple!

Consistency is Key

The way to establish a good effort reward cycle for yourself is to build discipline, which can be done either by realigning your objectives or by establishing a firm belief (supported by regular testing).

If your objectives are long-term and vague, it is a good idea to break them down into more tangible goals so that you are able to achieve them faster and keep the motivation going strong. On the other hand, if you firmly believe that you’re doing the right things to reach your goal, your motivation won’t dry out.

Whichever way you choose, you’ll reach a point where you will have to rely on your work itself to keep you motivated. Whether you bring the goalpost closer or you kick harder, ultimately you have to train your leg to make the kick. Your most successful strategy will always be to turn your efforts into a self-replenishing well of motivation by turning them into habits. Your work will motivate you to work more.

This is a roundabout way of saying that consistency is the key. As you do something regularly and repeatedly, it becomes easier and faster and you become better. At a certain stage, you stop thinking about it, and your effort becomes muscle memory or reaction memory.

Do Justice to Your Idea

So is the same with content creation. Create a weekly series, and commit to doing it at least 3 times in a row. After those 3 times, commit to doing it for 3 months. Then do it for 6, and then 18. Set progressive goals and watch it become easier as you keep doing it.

This is especially important if you have a big idea in mind, something that gives you a lot of satisfaction. My Talkback Tuesday series does that for me. Through feedback, I discovered I’m making a difference in people’s lives, and I was galvanized to keep doing it. At this point, I’ve been consistent for 6 months, and I can already see an audience building. I’ve begun discovering my audience, and I have been so motivated that I’ve already prepared for many months to come.

If you have a big idea, or an idea you believe in, you owe it to yourself to at least try doing it for 2 years. If you don’t think it deserves 2 years, it isn’t really a big idea. And if it is a big idea, then how can you think about dropping it just because it hasn’t gotten traffic in its infant stage?

(Honest) Marketing is the Skill to Build

In the point above, I mentioned that I discovered the appeal of Talkback Tuesday through feedback. This feedback was from some of the interviewees themselves, who told me how the experience gave them pause and insight. I had a moment of clarity then – that just the act of talking to people is helping them feel better and discover themselves, and I knew then that it is something worth doing.

To those who gave me the feedback, I asked that they share posts. And they did, simply because they believed the same message. And their shares got more people to look – some of whom stayed.

I started a Facebook page for my blog this year, and through trial and error, I learned how to market (or at least, I learned the basics). Half my blog viewership has come this year, and it is growing every month.

I said that your content doesn’t suck just because nobody is looking at it. People contend with their feeds every day. It logically follows that marketing is the skill to build today. Marketing is the art of getting your work in front of people, despite the grind of the feed.

However, there is good marketing and there is hokey marketing. Think back to content you’ve seen which was click bait i.e. it had a very attractive title, but the content didn’t really deliver on the promise. It probably left you feeling cheated. Marketing is only successful long-term if it delivers the goods it sells.

As the audience becomes more experienced with the trends and ways of the Internet, it becomes wary of trickery. Across the incredibly diverse spectrum of people online, the only thing I’ve seen a common hatred for is malicious disingenuity – nobody, and I mean NOBODY, likes people or companies that jump on trends for the purpose of goodwill, sales, or marketing. This is very apparent on Twitter, where companies are mocked for being friendly or “approachable”. They are not taken seriously, because their agenda is plainly visible.

As a content creator, the best thing you can do on the Internet is be genuine and be headstrong. Put your content out unabashedly, but make sure you represent it correctly. Give it the dignity it deserves.

The Takeaway

There are thousands of resources online that tell you how to begin getting audiences to see your content. You don’t need me to tell you. However, I will say that nothing builds as consistently as good word-of-mouth. If you believe in your content, pick a platform, pick some people you know, and ask them to share your content.

On large-scale, algorithm-based platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, ask them to engage with the post (likes, shares, comments, replies, retweets, the whole gamut). Engagement encourages the algorithms to promote your content in feeds. Leverage your friends to get the initial push, and you’ll start discovering your own audience.

Being Good is Not Your Default State

Misconception Month – Good, not Apathetic. An article about the common, incorrect belief that we’re great people, and that it takes effort to be bad.

It’s comforting to believe that you’re a good person. We all do it. We’ve wired ourselves to not really think about how we perceive morality and where we stand on our own scale of judgment.

The scale is often freely applied to other people and events, but a ton of people forget to look inwards first. It’s not really their fault. It’s just conditioning and a byproduct of our societal obsession with winning and being right. Continue reading “Being Good is Not Your Default State”

What You Do Is Not Easy

Misconception Month – Intensive, not Easy. An article about disparaging ourselves, and giving yourself a little more credit for all the things you do.

“Even a monkey could do it.” Have you ever heard that line? It’s used to indicate how easy a job is. Often, an unfulfilled employee will say it about their own profile. It’s not a very encouraging phrase.

However, what you do requires effort. A monkey cannot do it. If you think about it for a moment, you will realize how absurd that is. And then you will realize the absurdity of other negative statements we make.

The things that you do are not easy, they’re intensive. They take training and patience and fortitude to do. So why is it that it’s so easy for us to think otherwise? Continue reading “What You Do Is Not Easy”

You Do Not Want To Be Happy

Misconception Month – Happy, not Comfortable. An article about the most common lie ever told, and how we choose not to be more because of comfort.

At least eight out of ten people will say yes to the question, “Do you want to be happy?” It is the biggest and most common lie we all participate in. It’s an ingrained part of our culture to treat happiness as the ultimate goal – it’s the inherent marketing that people and companies alike peddle.

Continue reading “You Do Not Want To Be Happy”

The Key to Success is Not Competence, but Persistence

Misconception Month – Persistence, not Competence. An article about how the dangers of talent and how persistence leads to a better, sustainable success.

The unholy obsession that we as a people have with genius, competence, and ‘natural talent’ is a toxic mess. We often don’t realize it. It’s an ingrained part of our culture (or at least, across popular and easily accessible cultures) to emphasize talent in children as a focal point of their worth.

We appreciate children for being talented, but there are pitfalls in that appreciation that we disregard. As adults, our praise is conditional. We mean to say that children are well-formed or skilled FOR THEIR AGE. But a child cannot possibly make that distinction. Continue reading “The Key to Success is Not Competence, but Persistence”

Back with a New Look

Hello, hello, and welcome back! The hiatus is unofficially over – I’m figuring out how to approach a new writing schedule. However I’ve done one of the things I wanted to do – I’ve created a new theme for the blog. Based on WordPress’s 2016 theme, I’ve designed this one myself.

I would be proud of it, but every now and then I change something, and that’s where you come in. I would love your thoughts and feedback on this new theme – how it looks on your phone and computer, and if you have any ideas. Do you like the fonts? Is the site sufficiently color-themed? Does it have too much color? Is it accessible i.e. are you able to use it well? Is the Sidebar distracting? Is it useful?

Help me make this look better.

Now that I have this out of the way, I can finally focus on what I want to write about. I have lots of ideas for recurring series – some of the old ones will come back, and some new ones shall surface.

If you’ve been through the Library, do you have any particular content you enjoy?

Comment below, and see you again soon!