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Writing Anxiety


Informal terms for a variety of apprehensive and pessimistic feelings about writing ... Writers seek 'flow' beautifully coherent outpouring of knowledge ' ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Writing Anxiety

Writing Anxiety
  • Powerpoint created by Ms. Cason
  • Information provided by The Writing Center at
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • http//www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/

What are writing anxiety and writers block?
  • Informal terms for a variety of apprehensive and
    pessimistic feelings about writing
  • Situational generally not pervasive in a
    persons writing life
  • NOT psychological attributes
  • Experienced in particular contexts
  • Not born anxious writers, become anxious through
    negative experience

When do these negative feelings arise?
  • Adjusting to new form of writing
  • Writing for a reader who has been overly critical
    or demanding in the past
  • Remembering negative criticism from the past
  • Working with limited time or unstructured time
  • Responding to assignment that seems unrelated to
    academic or life goals
  • Dealing with troubling events outside of school

What are some strategies for handling these
Get support
  • Isolation can harm writers
  • Choose writing buddy
  • Someone you trust to encourage you in your
  • Friend, family member, classmate, teacher,
    colleague, or tutor
  • Talk to them about ideas, writing process,
    worries, and successes
  • Share pieces of your writing
  • Join writing group

Identify your strengths
  • Make a list of the things you do well
  • Some possibilities to get started
  • I explain things well to people
  • I get peoples interest
  • I have strong opinions
  • I listen well
  • I am critical of what I read
  • I see connections
  • Instead of saying I cant write, say I am a
    writer who can

Recognize that writing is a complex process
  • The best writers can do is contribute what they
    know and feel about a topic at a particular point
    in time.
  • Writers seek flow beautifully coherent
    outpouring of knowledge
  • Flow is a possibility and a myth
  • If you write long enough, you will encounter
  • Common during times of transition new writing
    roles or new kinds of writing

Think of yourself as an apprentice
  • Take time to understand the situations you are
    writing in
  • What has changed in your writing life?
  • You are writing in a new format.
  • You are writing longer papers than before.
  • You are writing for new audiences.
  • You are writing about new subject matter.
  • You are turning in writing from different states
    of the writing process (ex planning stages or
    early drafts)

Think of yourself as an apprentice
  • Not every format or audience will be right for
    you, but you wont know until you try.
  • When doing a new kind of writing, learn as much
    as you can about it and gain as many skills as
    you can.
  • When finished, decide which skills will serve you
    later on.

How to learn about new kinds of writing
  • Ask a lot of questions of those more experienced
  • Ask a lot of questions of the person who assigned
    the piece of writing.
  • Look for examples of this kind of writing. Look,
    especially, for variation.
  • Read handouts about how to write in specific
    fields or handling specific assignments
  • Dont try to do everything at once.
  • Listen critically to your readers dont dismiss
    or accept ALL criticisms

Try new tactics when you get stuck
  • What does your writing process look like? Is
    there a particular stage where you tend to get
  • Is your process working for you? If not, look for
    other approaches.
  • Talk to a writing buddy or others about what to
    do when stuck
  • Read about possible new approaches
  • Give different strategies a shot
  • Cut your paper into pieces and tape them to a
    wall, use different colored highlighters, draw a
    comic strip of your paper, read your paper out
    loud in the voice of your favorite movie
    starjust kidding, but do try different things
    and find what works for you.
  • Give yourself permission to fall flat on your
    face. Trying and failing will help you find what
    works for you.

Celebrate your successes
  • Start storing up positive experience with writing
  • Celebrate the occasions when you overcome your
  • You define what is a success for you
  • Keep a log or journal of your writing successes
    and breakthroughs, how you did it, how you felt.
    This can be a boost later when you face new

Get Support
  • Yes, its worth repeating.
  • Most people find relief for various anxieties by
    getting support from others
  • Maybe you dont even need to talk about writing
    maybe you just need to be reminded that you can
    do it.

  • Apprehension about writing is common
  • Talk with others
  • Realize we are ALL learning
  • Take an occasional risk
  • Turn to people who believe in you
  • Counter negative experiences by actively creating
    positive ones

  • Even after you have tried all these strategies,
    you will probably still have negative experiences
    in your writing life
  • Try not to let them sink in
  • Choose one suggestion the evaluator has made and
    work on it
  • Revise

  • Failures of various kinds are an inevitable part
    of the writing process. Without them it would be
    impossible to grow as a writer.
  • Use your failures to keep moving.
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