Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

Write About What Scares the Crap Out of You

What scares you? I mean, really scares you? What keeps you up at night?

Most of us think we know what scares us.

Extreme heights, dark alleys, or maybe, Spielberg.

In today’s post, I want to talk with you about a different kind of fear.

People send me links to their blogs all of the time, asking me to read them and give feedback. When I have time I don’t mind obliging and I look forward to reading interesting stuff.

However, all too often I end up looking at pretty cat pictures, dancing gifs and some random thoughts. Sometimes, though, I end up at a blog that stops me, pokes me, and makes me wonder and consider.

Allow me to be frank, if you’re going to be a serious writer who wants to be taken seriously, it’s time to write about some serious shit. I say that with the utmost of respect and from a place of experience.

When I first started blogging I had a cheesy blog design that anyone could get for free, I posted fun pictures that were more distracting than really “fun,” and I gave random tidbits about this or that.

And then, something changed. I started writing about stuff that actually made me nervous.

I started writing about things I care about.

And what makes writing about those things scary is that I’m laying my thoughts, emotions, and deepest secrets on the line for the entire world to read and… judge.

So, I get it. People want to blog. They want to be bloggers. They want to build platforms and network with like-minded people.

Great. Do it.

But please, for heaven’s sake, don’t take it lightly. Write about what keeps you up at night. If you’re not a little worried about what others might think, you’re not digging deep enough.

If you’re not a little worried about what others might think, you’re not digging deep enough

My first serious blog was about ADHD, I shared common knowledge about the condition, and as you might surmise, no one cared all that much. Just another blog sharing the same-old-same-old.

But when I started writing about my personal experiences, how I learned to cope with the way my mind works and I started to reveal what my struggles were and how they sometimes tore my eFF’ing life apart, people started to pay attention.

Bloggers, millions of them, write throwaway articles every day. The internet is clogged with what is supposed to be considered “evergreen,” but is really just more bland crap that nobody remembers 5 seconds after they read it.

I published a lot of throwaway articles too, but when I wrote about stuff I sincerely cared about, especially about such a pushbutton topic at the time, ears perked, people started sharing my work and the blogosphere went crazy both agreeing with me and hating on me (and how!).

The next thing I knew national magazines were ringing my number.

ADDitude Magazine, one of the most read magazines about ADHD worldwide, requested something I could never have imagined, they requested to use quotes from my writing about ADHD.

WTF?!

That was wonderful, but I didn’t realize they would end up using the quotes as a two-page spread in the middle of the magazine. (That was big stuff to me, my friends.) The piece was aptly titled, “Reality Knocks.”

ADDitude Magazine, Aug 1, 2010.

So why did people finally take notice?

Because I started writing about something I truly cared about, and friends, if that’s not scary I don’t know what is.

When I started this blog your reading, Positive Writer, one of my first blog posts was about how the first draft is not crap. It was scary because every writer on earth seemed to be convinced the first draft was total garbage. Thanks for nothing Hemingway!

I still get emails about that article, and they can be separated into two types, one telling me how wrong I am and the other, about how the article changed their perspective so much that they’re finally creating work that matters.

It’s amazing. I love it. It’s become a bit intoxicating to poke your thoughts with my writing. And yet, it’s still every bit as terrifying as it’s always been.

Positive Writer started a new journey for me, one where I regularly argue with long-held beliefs with concern to writing and what it takes to be a “writer.”

Inspired Writer, in fact, is a book that shines a bright light on what really holds most writers back. But I can save you some time and money by putting what holds most of us back into two words:

The. Rules.

And here’s the solution in two words:

Break. Them.

Two more:

Scary. Stuff.

As it turns out, the coping skills I learned for my life with ADHD are also great skills for writers and I teach those skills in my books. I think that’s part of what makes them unique compared to conventional books on writing.

Actually, it seems a lot of artists share similar traits we call Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, which in turn makes me wonder how much of a “disorder” it really is.

That’s yet another argument, is ADHD really a disorder? People go to war with each other over merely the suggestion that ADHD might not be a “disorder” and vice-versa. It’s a worthy topic, but again…

That’s scary.

If you examine blogs that are getting a decent amount of attention, you’ll discover the writing, regardless of what it’s about, is of substance and tends to challenge the status quo.

So, allow me to ask you:

What really scares you? What makes you nervous? What makes you worry about what others might think?

Write about that.

As I write this today, it’s May 21st, my birthday, and my birthday message to everyone reading this is, please, we need your words now more than ever, give yourself goosebumps!

Resonate.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins
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  • Vicki Turner Goodwin

    That was a great post. I really got a lot of valuable ideas from it.

  • I totally agree with what you’re saying, Bryan. I still remember being scared when I wrote my book Broken. At first, it was going to be my sister’s story about her murder. Emotional? Yes, but then it changed and I felt I was to add my story. And that changed everything. We must write what’s scary so our readers know we are sharing the real deal. When our readers know what they read is who we are, they will never get enough. Because when we’re authentic, we give them the right to also be authentic and to finally say out loud…”me too.” Happy Birthday Bryan!

  • Before anything else, HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRYAN! 😀
    You’re right about the internet clogging up so much content that’s just crap.
    As writers, we all have a unique voice and if we silence that only to fit the status quo, then why even write in the first place. We’re here to spread ideas, express ourselves and change other people’s lives.
    That thought alone is scary already because we never know what the outcomes might be but at the same time we know the rewards are worth it.
    For me, I have a fear of missing out. It makes me nervous when I have to be patient about something because I think there should be something else I should be doing rather than waiting. I’ve been working on it, and have come to the realization that it’s okay not to go through everything for the sake of it.
    If I’m constantly waiting for the next moment, I will never fully enjoy the present.
    So I’ve learned to appreciate each and every present.
    Also been embracing patience, even though it’s hard. 🙂

  • Wendy Pearson

    Happy Birthday, Bryan! I LOVED your message. It takes great courage to BE REAL and write with your own true voice and heart. And yes, you will criticized at times and probably misunderstood but you will find the audience that needs to hear you. Thanks for this good and scary word that we all need to hear.

  • Happy Birthday Bryan! Awesome post! I agree that it’s scary to put your heart out there. Everytime I write a blog post I get nervous. I wonder whether any one will care with so many blogs out there’s but then I read posts like yours and I’m encouraged to keep Writing because I have a unique perspective to share with the world like you do. Thanks for the encouragement and opportunity to share.https://www.beautifullybrokenliving.com/real-life-confessions-financial-crisis/

    • I absolutely agree with your post about the solution to take action! Thank you for sharing with us, Rhonda.

  • Meg Konovska

    Hello, Bryan, and Happy Birthday!
    Thank you for all your amazing and inspiring articles, I love them!
    Let me now answer your questions – What really scares you? What makes you nervous? What makes you worry about what others might think?
    I think one of the things which bothers me most is breaking my closest people’s expectations when they rely on me in a certain way, or expect me to behave in a certain way which matches their views (but not mine) of what’s best. Letting them down or confronting them has always been a struggle.
    Ironically, it has turned out that the moment I openly declare my true desires and intentions, I quite often hear a Why didn’t you say it earlier? I thought X was something which you wanted too!
    Thank you for raising up the questions, and happy birthday again!
    Meg

    • Hi Meg, you just described part of the process of overcoming doubt. Trust yourself, not the voices telling you otherwise. You don’t need anyone’s approval to be yourself. Good for you!

  • Laurie Turner

    What scares me? How about throwing away a wig I wore when I had cancer? I wrote a blog about it — noting the old wive’s tale that if you throw something away, you’ll need it. I keep a wig in my closet to keep cancer from recurring. I guess throwing away the wig scares me! https://lauriesnowturner.com/2011/04/06/cancer-in-the-closet/
    Now, I’m wondering what else scares me…. A thought-provoking questions. Thanks for sharing.
    Laurie Turner
    lauriesnowturner.com

    • Oh my. I see your story as one of strength, Laurie. Thank you.

    • 4 Season’s Farm

      I love this. Thank you for sharing. I too have battled cancer (not to the extent of what you went through), and I have a permanent scar to prove it and it is visible when I wear capris or shorts. My daughter once told me my scars were tattoos with better stories. I decided her to adopt her comment as my own and go with it, so my scar remains.

      • Laurie Turner

        I am going to have to adopt that thinking — my scars are tattoos with better stories! So perfect. Stay well and thanks for the great comment.

  • Helga

    10 years ago I wrote a blog post on my thoughts about life and death. http://helga.ca/life-without-death . I thought people would think it was too esoteric and nobody would read it. It became my most popular post and people are still reading it.

    • One word Helga, I can see why: Profound.

      “Death is the boundary that makes life real and precious.”
      Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Judy Peterman Blackburn

    Hi Bryan,
    Great post and Happy Birthday! I think what scares me most is doubt. I think I’ll be re-reading your Writer’s Doubt. Thank you. 🙂

    • Thanks, Judy. Doubt scares me, too! Let’s raise our swords and slay it today! 🙂 Until it rises up again and then we’ll slay it again.

      • Judy Peterman Blackburn

        Swords raised! 🙂

  • Shelly Kerchner

    HI Bryan,
    I just finished my first book, Standing Tall and I must say I feel alit better about it after your advice to “write about what scares you” and also the tip of , “if I am not worried about what others are thinking I am not going deep enough”. The whole time I was am am still writing I worry I shared too much and get “scared”! I am new to blogging, my editor created a blog for me on World Press at http://www.shellykerchner.com. For whatever reason last week I could not share my link to my blog, operator error I am sure! I would be honored if you would check it out.

    My writing has been a result of my childhood trauma/domestic violence and my spinal cord injury I suffered ten years ago. Writing has helped me heal emotionally and has taken my spirituality to a deeper level.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!

  • Danielle Bernock

    Happy birthday Bryan!
    Thank you for sharing your story. I take all the encouragement I can get because I need it. The scariest thing I put out there was my book Emerging With Wings. I wrote about that for my first guest post on Two Drops of Ink https://twodropsofink.com/2017/03/07/write-your-story-even-if-youre-not-the-best-writer/

    On my blog, my post last week scared me. I’ve been afraid of being misunderstood. I’ve been afraid I’m “doing it wrong”. I’ve been afraid of judgement… http://www.daniellebernock.com/do-you-value-your-inner-life/

    This post last year got the most views ever http://www.daniellebernock.com/god-didnt-do-that/
    I’d love feedback. I’m still a newbie. Only been blogging a year and on self-hosted 11 months.

    • Oh my, that last one… touching, Danielle. You’ve found your voice. Trust it.

      • Danielle Bernock

        Thank you – hope you had a great birthday!

      • Danielle Bernock

        Oh! And due to your encouragement I shared that older post again today on my author page and on twitter. Thank you!

    • 4 Season’s Farm

      Very touching story. I lost my dad at age fourteen to a vehicle accident. I too suffered much grief, but I didn’t blame God, instead I blamed myself and what I thought was a lack of faith. I prayed and asked God to make sure my dad was okay on the way to the hospital, but we never made it to the hospital before we learned he had died instantly. It took many years for my heart to heal and for me to realize I had faith, and my dad was okay and safe in His arms. I was okay as well and God wanted to grow me and my faith. It wasn’t until I accepted all my faith should be in Him alone did I began the process of healing and moving forward. Thank you for sharing your story. I like your blog also.

      • Laurie Turner

        Lovely story of resilience and strengthened faith.

  • Happy birthday, Bryan! Thank you for this post!
    What scares me is writing about parenting a child who is not neurotypical. I have friends who post about every therapy appointment and every development but for some reason, I’ve never felt comfortable going public with our struggles. However, I often read something candid another parent has written and think how wonderful it is they shared their story. I might not have the nerve to share our story yet but I am grateful to those who do!

    • Thanks, Holly! Sounds to me you’re on the path of learning all there is to learn about writing / blogging in public thing. When it feels right to you, that’s when you’ll share your stories. Not before.

  • Mia

    Happy birthday, Bryan!
    It’s scary for me to write about recovering from incest and rape, so even though I do, I still don’t have the courage to write under my real name. I try to keep my posts as upbeat as I can though, because my blog is also a story of how God chased me down, won me over, and continues to heal me and work in my life. Two of my most controversial posts were:
    https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/hearing-voices/ and
    https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/putting-things-in-perspective-a-look-at-forgiveness/
    Thanks for letting us share! I’ve only been blogging a little over 6 months. Maybe one of these days I’ll be brave enough to put my real name out there…

  • 4 Season’s Farm

    Happy birthday Bryan.
    I thought about rewriting this post for sometime, but couldn’t work up the courage to do so. Your article gave me the courage today, so here it is. Thank you.
    4seasonsfarm.org/unmasking

    • Good for you. And I’m glad you’re cancer free!!

      • 4 Season’s Farm

        Thank you.

  • James

    So brilliant. I need this… Distilled to the four/ six words, in constant view.

  • samcarter44

    Hope you had a happy birthday, Bryan. In my blog, I write about faith and about what people don’t talk about in the church. Today I wrote about death and the questions I had and how they related to how the church doesn’t know how to deal with someone who doesn’t have a family. https://alisarussell.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/uncomfortable-questions/ Thanks for posting this!

    • 4 Season’s Farm

      I agree with your thoughts. I have worked in the healthcare field and I have watched as people were afraid of dying and then I have seen those who are afraid of letting go of their loved one. This is the reason I strongly hope to encourage others to grow spiritually. It is so important to study scripture for ourselves and ask God the tough questions so we can find rest in Him. Thanks for sharing. God Bless.

  • AnnvW

    I was scared to write about the killings happening in this country (the Philippines)… until I realized that my silence and cowardice was part of the problem. I haven’t written much about it – wisdom and plain common sense shouldn’t been thrown out with the proverbial bathwater – but here’s the first time I dared to mention something: https://crackedceiling.blog/2017/02/17/7000-and-still-counting/

  • lupine

    I’ve struggled with several of my posts since I’m a very active part of a loving religion that would like us to be positive in all areas. Some folks don’t tolerate looking at topics from an edgier perspective. But here’s a couple of mine: http://shirleyannparker.com/feeling-disrespected-join-the-club/ and http://shirleyannparker.com/sometimes-we-need-to-get-angry/