Overcoming my Blog-anxiety

By Bettina Moltrecht
Thursday, 9th November 2017
Filed under: ESRBlog

Months ago (I will not tell you how many), I was asked to write a blog post. I had very mixed feelings about this - actually, I was terrified.

Publishing a blog post on the world wide web is the boss of all possible anxiety exposure experiments for me*. Too many people get a chance to judge you, your style (if I can claim to have one), your opinion (that one I have) and your grammar (that one being the greatest fear for every non-native writer).

I love reading great blog posts, but me writing one? Who would even be interested in what I have to say? My list of very good reasons for not writing a blog post was endless. 

Having been a therapist in a previous life was not helpful at that point, as I was able to detect my own avoidance strategies. Hours of professional self-talk, however convinced me to face my blog-post-anxiety.

I started out with an online search for exercises that are meant to improve your writing and even more important strategies to overcome writer’s-block.

Here is a little summary of what I found helpful:

  1. Try to learn a couple of new synonyms, idioms or clichés every week
  2. Write a little bit every day! Pick a random word from the dictionary or newspaper and write down whatever comes to your mind. It is actually fun to observe how your mind creates a coherent text out of a single word.

These little tasks and other fun exercises that you find online can help you to at least get started, because there is no defined end product that you want to achieve. I personally, found it much easier; because there was no gold standard I could compare my piece of writing with.

On a rainy Sunday I tested a few of these exercises and was determined to finally write my first blog post – unsuccessfully. My anxiety of being too boring, too complex or too casual was stronger than my determination. Luckily, when humans really, really want to avoid something, they come up with very creative – and sometimes sneaky- solutions. I had one of these genius moments, when I decided to find blog posts that covered the stuff that I wanted to write about. So that I could re-write them. Well, I did not!

Following my second failure, I decided that I needed a course and signed up for “Writing across the genres”. I learned various new rules and guidelines, but the most helpful things that I took from the course were:

  • Play around with your sentences
  • It is not about writing, it is about drafting, checking and re-drafting!

Did this help me with my blog-post anxiety? Only slightly. But here is my advice. Blog-post anxiety is like any other anxiety. Eventually, you will have to look it in the eye and when no one is watching you will throw it over your shoulder and run!

Here I am – still running-  presenting to you my first and ever self-written blog-post.

It was proof-read by the nice instructor of the course that I took. Some people might think that this is cheating. In exposure therapy, however, you never start with your greatest fear first, but with slight variations that prepare you for the big moment.

* For those who are new to psychology: In therapy people with anxieties expose themselves to their most fearful situations to overcome their anxiety. The idea is that you get used to the situation and the emotions involved and thereby become less anxious. 

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