Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

I’m a Scaredy Cat Writer

It may sound incredibly ironic for me to admit, as a teacher of writing and an active freelance writer, that I am deathly afraid of writing. With every project I begin, fear consumes me and I initially panic. I doubt myself and sadly, procrastinate.

And then, I breathe and realize that I’m human.

Fear is a natural reaction for writers. The pressure to create a phenomenal piece that influences the world, inspires a reader and possibly win an award mounts and eats away at our confidence and ultimately, can tear away at the creativity we have the talent to create.

However, fear is also a motivator. I find that if I acknowledge the fear and then literally force myself to begin, it slowly fades. The words keep flowing and the momentum gains speed. In the end, I feel accomplished with a finished manuscript and proud of myself for conquering my fear of writing.

The vicious cycle begins again, though, with the next project.

My students encounter this type of fear in my writing classes. Sometimes, instead of fear acting as a motivator, it can be debilitating for those who have encountered harsh critiques and less-than-encouraging mentors or teachers.

I spend a significant amount of time convincing my students that they can write and provide them with brainstorming tools to jump start their confidence levels before we begin writing projects. We use mind maps, freewriting sessions and outlines to get the ideas flowing, but until writers conquer the fear, these strategies do not always help.

Recently, I came across an article on CopyBlogger’s site that addressed the fear of writing. “7 Quick-Start Techniques for Fighting the Fear to Write” offers sound advice for both me and my students to take to heart.

The advice is simple – set goals, plan content, freewrite, and divide and conquer – yet more than helpful strategies, it acknowledges that writing is often driven by fear.

And, my favorite part is that it points out that I’m not the only scaredy cat hiding behind my computer.


– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: May 29, 2010

© Shannon Philpott, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


May 29, 2010 - Posted by | Blog, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , ,


  1. I face fear every time I start a writing project, whether it’s for work, my class or my blog. The worries are different: if it’s work, I fear that I won’t get the facts right; if it’s school, I fear that I have nothing to contribute; if it’s my blog, I fear no one will like it, or worse–no one will read it.

    Comment by Debbie Johnson | May 29, 2010 | Reply

  2. I understand the fear. I sometimes fear I’m either trying to much at once. I remember when I was 13 and got published for the first time, I stopped writing for more than 10 years cause I was afraid I ‘d never be able to top it or progress from it. I will say that thanks to you, the Montage staff, and Meramec as a whole I was able to over come those fears. Now the only fear I have is when I must leave STLCC-Meramec having to start over and hope the people I’m surrounded by at that time see the same things you and the rest see now…Thank you Shannon

    Comment by shanerice4120 | May 29, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Deborah Johnson, Shannon Philpott. Shannon Philpott said: Are you a scaredy cat #writer? (I am, but I'm still #amwriting) […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention I’m a Scaredy Cat Writer « Shannon Philpott -- | May 29, 2010 | Reply

  4. Hi Shannon, glad you enjoyed the article! You are definitely NOT the only one. 🙂

    Comment by Catherine Caine | May 29, 2010 | Reply

  5. My obstacle is knowing that once it’s printed, there’s no going back. No changes. The only part of me that will be immortal.

    Comment by Amy | May 31, 2010 | Reply

  6. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Fear definitely has its positives and negatives – I think that if we confront it head on, though, and look at the issues behind it (several that Deb mentions – and Amy, too), then we have a better chance of producing quality work that we are proud of.

    Comment by sphilpott | May 31, 2010 | Reply

  7. […] I’m a Scaredy Cat Writer « Shannon Philpott […]

    Pingback by Cat Care & Sick Cats : How to Make Organic Cat Food | June 11, 2010 | Reply

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