In my last article, You Really Want to Be a Writer. So Why Do You Have So Many Problems Actually Writing? I talked about the dysfunctional cycle many writers are trapped in when they’re dealing with writer’s block. Most writers who are struggling with writing blame themselves and are weighed down by the heavy shame and guilt they experience over not writing.
In that article I explained that this dysfunctional cycle happens because of unresolved trauma that is blocking the writer from being able to write, and I promised to go into detail about what’s actually happening between the nervous system and the brain when this happens, and why it always results in self-sabotage.
Writer’s block comes in many forms, but perhaps one of the hardest to deal with is that feeling that you can’t seem to say what you really want to say. You feel like there is a writer inside of you—the true writer that comes from the true you—but every time you sit down to write you end up writing something that feels like it’s just trying to get approval from others, instead of actually express the truth of what’s going on inside you.
Low self-esteem is something that you always know is there, in the back of your mind, but that you don’t often try to actively work on, mostly because it feels like such an uphill battle. Writers with low self-esteem are usually aware that they have the problem, but conquering it seems impossible. This is because low self-esteem is often something the writer has already struggled with for years, and also because there are no quick and easy answers.
The thing writers with low self-esteem hear the most often in the way of advice is, “Be more confident!” Or, “Love yourself!” This advice is pretty much worthless, because low self-esteem is not something you can just determine to get over, and then fight your way over it. It’s not something you can wish away or decide that you’re not going to struggle with anymore. Low self-esteem is insidious, shape-shifting, and for most writers who have it, a constant condition of life.
Almost every struggling writer I work with has the same question: How can I be more productive? Most of them have tried countless different strategies to achieve this end, and if you’re a writer yourself you probably have too. There are all kinds of programs to help you “stay disciplined” and all kinds of apps to give you a “kick in the ass.”
Usually, when I talk to these struggling writers they all tell me a variation of the same theme, which is that they’re basically afraid that the problem is that they’re lazy and if they don’t constantly push themselves and force themselves to adhere to a strict writing practice, they’ll go off the rails and never write anything at all.
Every writer struggles with the fear of being judged at some point. It’s hard not to when the whole point of your creative work is to ultimately put it out there in the world for other people to read. But for most writers, this fear of being judged is a manageable struggle. Sure, it sucks and it’s uncomfortable, but it can also be negotiated and moved past. It doesn’t stop them from writing or from sharing their writing with the world.
However, there is a certain type of writer who not only struggles with the fear of judgment, but is completely paralyzed by it. This type of writer often reports extremely high levels of anxiety when they even think about showing someone else what they’ve written. They also often feel like everyone is observing them, all the time, and so the judgment coming at them isn’t solely limited to their ability as a writer.