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Afraid to Write? Try Writing Outside Yourself

Let the creative beast flow through you

Aspiring authors have often come to me asking how it’s possible to write honestly, while at the same time, not being afraid of their own words and what others think of them. I understand the struggle of speaking your truth. I’m afraid of the first series I wrote to this day — even though it’s long been published. My standalone book, on the other hand, I have no issues promoting, though the subject matter is ten times more uncomfortable.

Why is that?

I had previously attributed my fear to the fact that my first series has some cringe-worthy scenes of what you might consider to be self-inserts. But I’ve since come to a deeper realization about why exactly it scares me so much to put these four books (Benny’s Story, Bad Blood, Killing Jar, Human Nature) out to the public, and why — in contrast to these books — promoting my most recent standalone book to date (The Boathouse) is so much easier.

The key to understanding lies in the ways we tend to approach writing. Here are some useful questions to ask yourself about why you write:

Are you writing directly from yourself?
Are you writing outside yourself?

Are you writing to feel seen or be heard?
Are you writing to deliver a message the world needs to hear and only you can tell?

The following are a few key notes to remember about the process of putting words to the page. These are just a few of my thoughts on how writers can stop being afraid of their message and come into themselves and their voices fully and without fear.

You are not your words

Among other things, it’s important to know that you are not what you write.

Beginner writers often hold themselves back for fear of what people might think about the words they put on paper. One of the reasons for this is because they believe they are what they write, and everything they put on the page defines them as a person. While it is true that everything you write comes from somewhere inside you, it is not you.

Think about a meditation session. When you sit with your thoughts and feelings during a meditation, you simply observe them. They come and go, flowing through the vast expanse of your consciousness. These feelings and emotions you have don’t define you and your existence. They simply exist as something to observe.

Your writing and experiences are the same. They simply exist. You can observe them and be curious about them, but you don’t have to let them define your entire being and who you are. They are just one of many things that come and go like the ebb and flow of an ocean tide.

If you understand that you are not your writing, it will open you up to express freely and without fear of being judged for your words.

The art is the focus — not you

You’re not the focus of whatever you create. You’re simply the vessel your message (writing) chooses to speak through. This is where the phrase “you don’t choose writing, writing chooses you” comes in (check out my article A Glimpse into the Belly of the Creative Monster for a more in-depth explanation of this). Your words and truth have a mind of their own — your writing has a mind of its own. And it’s not you.

We know this because we can go out on the streets and live our lives as ordinary human beings, and then at the end of the day, come home to pick up pen and paper and build vast fairy tale worlds filled with mythical creatures that don’t exist in our daily “real world” lives. These things we write are removed from ourselves, while simultaneously being pushed out from inside of us.

Neil Gaiman has said in one of his famous speeches on the topic of writing, that no matter what happens in your life, continue to make good art. Put focus on the art, the piece of work you are creating. It is a thing that forms outside yourself. Don’t try to control it or make it about you, just let it take its form.

Focus on the message — remove yourself

Remove yourself from the process. If you truly have a message to convey, and if you feel only you can convey it in the way it needs to be conveyed, then it’s no longer about you. It’s about the message. That’s the only thing that truly matters.

The same is true if you want to get over a fear of public speaking. The only reason you are afraid is because you’re thinking only of yourself. You’re more focused on how people will perceive the messenger than on the message itself. The message is beyond you. It’s something much bigger than you. It’s outside yourself.

Don’t get caught up in entangling yourself with your message. Focus on the message and everything else fall away — you’ll see your fear and self-consciousness start to disappear.

The reason why I’d been afraid of putting my series out for the world to read is because I had claimed it as my own. I put myself into it, believing I was directly transporting myself into the work of art. And that made me self-conscious. It made me feel like when people read it, they were reading me.

As a beginner writer, I was writing for an entirely different reason than I do now: I was writing for people to see me. My standalone, on the other hand, was written to convey a message (or many messages) beyond myself. It was written to speak truths about the world. It was written outside myself.

I approach writing a lot differently now since I wrote that first series. My series is still up and published (you can find it up there on my Amazon page), even if just as a reminder of how far I’ve come with my writing. I still have far to go, but it helps to view how far I’ve progressed already.

So, I encourage you to allow the creative energy to guide you. Let it enter, flow through you, and move your pen across the page — all without fear.

Be brave, speak your truth, and write outside yourself.

If you are looking for a community of writers, check out my Discord server: The Bird’s Nest. I created this server as a way for budding authors to share ideas and tips with each other, to build a community and help each other do what we love to do most: to write!

[UPDATE: The Bird’s Nest is now by join request only. Please reach out at if you would like to join!]

All the books mentioned in this post are self-published by me and are available for purchase on my Amazon page. Thank you for reading and supporting my work.

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