Writing Corner: How Fear Hindered My Writing Progress

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How Fear Hindered My Writing Progress

Simple steps to conquer the blank page

by Joanne Troppello

I’ve had three articles and one poem curated on Medium during a 2-and-a-half-month period. Getting curated felt like a great accomplishment. I didn’t make the big bucks with those articles, but there was a significant increase in earnings compared to my other articles that were not curated.

I got curated every two or three weeks. That’s just how it worked out so far. Every time I got curated, I was so excited. However, then I became uncertain about my abilities—would I ever be able to top that curated article and write another that got curated.

So, I’ve taken some steps to help me harness that fear and turn it into confidence, knowing that I can write another great article. Sure, not every article will be my best, but continuing to write is the biggest accomplishment.

Acknowledge fear of failure

I will be better than my last curated article.

That is a statement that I repeat to myself when I need to build my confidence level for writing a new article. I have to acknowledge the fear of failure and just start writing.

That means writing the article and turning off my internal editor. Sure, I try to have structure in my article and want it to make sense. However, in the beginning, it’s best to simply write and edit later.

Brainstorm topic sessions

Write a prospective title list with subheadings during a brainstorm session so you’re prepared with topics to write about when you start your next article or blog post.

Having a topic list will save you from wasting time when you want to start writing an article but don’t know what to write about. During my short time writing on Medium, there were several times—before I created my topic list—when I sat down to write and wasted time trying to think of the best topic that would make it big on that platform.

That didn’t help me. I wasted valuable time that could have been used to write the next article if I’d had a topic in mind.

Time blocking

I usually set aside several hours in the afternoon and after dinner to write. I don’t check emails during that time or scroll through social media feeds. I don’t want any distractions.

  • Identify: The first step is to ascertain how much time you’d need to accomplish your writing goals for the day. Decide if you want to write one long form article each day or a few shorter form articles. With a clearly defined objective, you can accomplish more than you think you can.

  • Listing: Creating a listing of your writing goals for each specific time blocking segment. When you complete a goal, cross it off your list. Seeing tasks checked off your list will motivate you to continue going with your to do list.

  • Schedule: Add the time blocking segments to your calendar to make it more official. I use the Google calendar app and love how it keeps me organized with freelance copywriting projects, novel edits, magazine formatting, and Medium article writing goals.

  • Evaluate: Try this time blocking routine for one month and see how much progress you’re making in accomplishing various writing goals. I’ve heard varying expert advice on how long it takes to make or break a habit. Some have said 21, 66, and even up to 254 days to form a habit.

Add breaks to writing schedule

Break time is an important thing to add to your writing schedule. Yes, it’s true that one time I literally spent 7 hours (from midnight to 7 am) doing final edits on my latest novel, Mr. Shipley’s Governess. I was on a roll and couldn’t stop and my husband said, ok then and went to bed without me. He knew not to bother me when I was in serious writing focus mode.

However, that is not recommended for your daily writing routine. In a Huffington Post article, Coach and Author Kate Bartolotta shared that according to a Science Daily study:

“Those who give in to some kind of diversion or distraction once an hour perform better than those who just keep at it without a break. After a while, our brains numb out a bit to the constant stimulation, and we become unable to continuously treat the task as important. Taking a break allows us to come back to the job at hand with renewed energy and a sense of purpose.”

Follow the advice of Kate Bartolotta and let a break time “serve as creative fuel” for your writing projects.

I’ve added break times to my writing schedule and have seen an improvement in my productivity levels.

Keep your topic list full

You could be cooking dinner or out for a walk and have an idea for a new article. Use the QuickMemo app on your phone or carry a small notepad with you and jot down your idea so you won’t forget it.

Make sure that you keep your topic list full so that it is always ready for when you review it as you’re inclined to sit down to write.

Maybe your idea you had while out walking the dog won’t seem as relevant to you when you sit down to write the next day. That’s why it’s good to have at least 5-10 topics on your list at any one time so you have a variety to chose from.

I’ve benefited from having a constantly growing topic list. I highly recommend it if you want to write more and waste less time.


You can overcome your fear and improve your writing process by following these basic steps to conquer the blank page.

  • Acknowledge fear of failure

  • Brainstorm topic sessions

  • Time blocking

  • Add breaks to writing schedule

  • Keep your topic list full

What do you do to deal with writer’s block and handling insecurities with your writing?


About the Author

Joanne Troppello at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel.

Connect with Joanne on Twitter and join in cultivating positivity in your life and sharing it with others by subscribing to the Sunflower Quest Community.

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