How Fear Shapes Your Writing

Michelle Renee Kidwell
3 min readSep 19

Fear in Writing Is Not Necessarily a Bad Thing

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

“But if I write what my soul thinks, it will be visible and the words will be it’s body.” Helen Keller.

Pat Schneider reminded her readers in her book Write Alone that fear is close to the first stories we want to tell, no matter how it’s disguised. The words we write are always filled with fear, fear of what others will think, but even greater fear is the truth we may discover, since writing allows us to open up in ways few other things can. Having fear while you’re writing may not necessarily be a bad thing. It allows you to dig deeper and grow as a writer.

Pat Schneider says fear is the writer’s friend. The act of writing can open up old wounds, but it can also heal them. The hard stories we tell remind others they are not alone. This applies to fiction as well as nonfiction since fiction must be believable and relatable to engage the reader.

Writing, good writing, is when we are able to open up, to share old wounds, but doing so can also cause fear, the fear of old emotions stirring up, and of painful truths being revealed. It is sometimes necessary to write these truths down for ourselves even if no one reads them.

Photo by Eugene Chystiakov on Unsplash

Any writing exposes writers to judgment about the quality of their work and their thought. The closer they get to painful personal truths, the more fear mounts — not just about what they might reveal but about what they might discover should they venture too deeply inside. To write well, however, that’s exactly where we must venture.

Ralph Keyes

I’ve written things that have made me uncomfortable not to put myself in an awkward position, but to express my heart on the page, and that can be scary. However, what’s scarier is to let those painful truths fester inside you, eating at the core of who you are.

Not every story needs to be told, nor do you have to share everything you write with others. There are things we write that are just for us, but that doesn’t make them any less healing.

Whenever we are reading someone’s story and offering advice, or whatever the case may be, we need to realize that everyone’s story is unique, and we shouldn’t judge the writer, but instead focus on helping them grow. In the same way, the stories we tell, the choices we make, and the fears we experience have helped to shape who we are as writers and as people in general, but they are not our very definition.

Copyright ©️ Michelle R Kiddwell


Michelle Renee Kidwell

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge in the light: Helen Keller