You would note the use of the word 'again' in the title of my question.

I wrote a number of short stories many years ago. This was when I was doing my first degree (in literature) just after high school. There were no creative writing courses but just analysis of novels, plays and poetry in the first degree. The 'creative writing' part of me came out one day when I thought of entering into a student run short story writing competition.

Fast forward many years later: I started working, did my postgraduate degrees (including a doctorate) but these are not in literature. They are in economics. I am a researcher and the research is of the 'academic type', not creative writing.

Now that I have some free time (I am certainly not retired!!), I want to go back to creative writing. I know I can write because I have written 15 short stories and had them published in the local papers.

However, I get this lingering feeling that I cannot write any more.

Question: How can I overcome this anxiety of writing?

I saw a number of other related questions but in my case, it is neither a lack of motivation nor skill; it is just the fact that I cannot bring myself to write!

  • 1
    Not quite a duplicate but will probably be helpful: writers.stackexchange.com/questions/2100/… Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 0:29
  • @LaurenIpsum That helps! Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 0:57
  • Have lightly edited the question to remove a discussion-like aspect of it and instead ask the question more directly. I hope this fits with what you intended; if not, please feel free to revert or further edit. Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 1:16
  • The definition of anxiety varies quite a bit from person to person. How deep is your anxiety? Is it a fear that makes literally unable to write while you sit at your computer, but still have ideas you want to write down?
    – Seanny123
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 10:20
  • 1
    You can come to the Writer's chat, Tuesdays in our chat room. We do ten minutes timed writing on a surprise topic. It is a good excuse to write, and no one expects genius when you've only ten minutes on an unknown topic. My personal goal is usually just to be comprehensible. (I don't always accomplish that either.)
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 23:59

5 Answers 5


My answer for you is the same I gave for other related questions: just write.

There's a nice saying -- "the good is a sworn enemy of the optimum". I've seen people like you and one of the main reasons they become anxious about writing is because they don't understand that they can't aim too high if they don't grab the arrow. The bible has an interesting story about David and Goliath, which is very illustrative for the writer's life.

Your goal is to defeat Goliath. Goliath is your master goal and probably is not only getting back to write but to write something good. You have your stones and sling ( your writing tools and skill ) and hope to achieve defeat your anxious with the help of God ( Creativity and willpower ) but some how it seems not powerful enough to kill a giant. The problem is that most people forgets that David didn't kill the giant from nothing. First he killed a bear and a lion, and probably empty beers bottles too. ;-)

That's your case. You need to start hitting empty bottles. Just write. Start with small chronicles. A blog is an outstanding tool for that. They doesn't need to be good at all, at least for a start. You will see that as you write, you will write. And I'm not being redundant here.

It's the inertia. You have the tendency of doing what you are doing, liking it of not. You stopped writing and it's hard to invert that tendency so, you need to force yourself to do it. There's no other way. I guess the anxiety is related to the acceleration, because nobody can reach 200km/h without passing trough 30km/h. But, then again, it's all about start writing.

  • +1. I waited for months for inspiration for something truly original and creative, finally said "screw that, I'll write something completely generic" and two pages into writing my imagination went into wild tangents and the story became something completely unlike what I had intended and one of my most original works.
    – SF.
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 9:29
  • It's nice to hear that ;-) Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 9:44

I think the question of motivation is dependant on exactly what you want to achieve. You cant get motivated about a goal thats as amorphous as "start writing again". What I've found to be useful is to decide on smaller writing targets, and accomplishing those. Initially, just personal goals (for example, my goal for this month is to write a 2000 word story about regret).

Start by writing a particularly bad story, a real stinker, bad spelling, weak characterization etc. I usually find that helps me get the wheel turning, and after about 15 minutes, I find my brain starts coming up with interesting ideas and, before I know it, I'm into flow again.


If creative writing is one of your talents and creative ideas are coming to your mind. Don't hesitate to do so. Take a pen and start writing those. For first few days, you will feel uncomfortable but afterwards you will be habituated and things will go smoothly as it was before when you used to write.



Some famous guy said that writing was opening a vein onto the page.

I wish I was that easy.

Writing is reaching into the most vulnerable parts of your soul and raising them from the depths to show their horrid beauty for all to see.

You are shining light on the best and worst facets of your being and it is scary. Being that open and vulnerable is terrifying.

But it's okay. They don't know you and how you fit together and they guess wrong all the time.

Don't be afraid, you've already conquered yourself. Write and be free.


Javeer, I think you are so afraid of writing that you don't even want to seriously address the issue. You have yourself so tied up in knots that you are talking in self-contradictions. You say "it's not lack of motivation, I just can't bring myself to write." I would say "just can't bring myself to write" is precisely a lack of motivation. You say "I know I can write," and then you talk about your "lingering feeling" that you can't write! Again, you're contradicting yourself. You're talking in circles because you don't want to face the fact that it's easier to talk about why you can't write than it is to actually WRITE SOMETHING.

But I think that's the crux of the problem. You're simply afraid of failure. Well, forget it, Javeer. So is everyone! ALL writers are afraid of failure. The greatest writers are probably more afraid of failure than anyone. It's what drives them to write more, to work harder, to do everything they can to improve so they will be successful.

Writing is a terrifying thing. You're putting your heart, soul, and the contents of your mind out in front of the world for everyone to see. Wouldn't that be scary? Of course it would! It's absolutely bone-chillingly horrifying, and it's what stops most of the world from being writers.

So here's the news, and I'm not going to sugar-coat it. Do you really want to write? Then let me tell you something. All the tricks and devices and gimmicks and ways of fooling yourself into getting something written aren't going to help if you can't take a deep breath and say, BY GOD I AM GOING TO DO THIS! You have to overcome the terror of the blank page, as it used to be more commonly called in the days of pens and paper and good old-fashioned typewriters. Just looking at an empty white sheet of paper onto which you were supposed to put some new writing could send some writers into something approaching panic attacks, and I'm not talking about would-be writers; I'm talking about world-class ones.

So there you have one helpful note of reassurance: You are in very good company. And here's the one trick that actually works: Remember there is no such thing as failure. If you write something, you have already succeeded. You have overcome the terror of the blank page. Tell yourself this: You're not going to die if you write something. Does that sound silly? It's not. Writing isn't a matter of life and death. Put it in its place. Don't let it defeat you. You are the master of your own writing. If you really want to write, then that means you want to tell the world something, don't you? SO TELL IT. You can talk, can't you? TALK TO THE WORLD. In your writing. Just start talking. In written form.

Does any or all of this sound harsh, too tough? Fine. So be it. I teach writing. I edit writing. I have never seen anyone become a successful writer if they couldn't handle this tough love. This is the reality, Javeer. You're either a writer or you aren't, and that's defined by whether you can have the courage to write. I say put aside your fear. Believe that what you say matters, because it does. You can play around with gimmicks, or you can pick up your sword and slay the dragon.


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