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NaNoWriMo: Overcome Fear and Write More

Greetings, writers! I am delighted to welcome my friend and colleague Michelle Bersell. Michelle and I met several years ago at a writing conference. Recently, I heard Michelle speak on overcoming fear. I asked Michelle to share her thoughts with us as we approach the last third of our NaNoWriMo writing marathon!


In your mind, you hold a brilliant book.  Here the words feel already written and ideas flow like hot fudge melting down an ice cream sundae.  You are ready.  The time has come for your creative expression to be birthed!

What you may not realize is that at the precise moment that you have decided to share your masterpiece, you have ignited another part of you.  This part will not keep you motivated or focused, inspired or encouraged.  What you have unknowing brought forward is your fear.

You see, the moment you claim a goal, your fears are set in motion.  An inner battle that you are vastly unaware of is going on in your psyche.  What you are unconsciously trying to work through is your ambivalence.  Although you may think that with all your heart, mind and soul you want your book completed, there is another part of you that fears the book’s completion.  Yes, what you are dealing with is the age old struggle between your fear of failure and your fear of success.

Don’t worry, there is good news.  You can learn how to choose success, even though a part of you is uncertain about the change created when you achieve your goals.  To choose success over failure, all you need to do is become aware of the ways in which your fears manipulate and take you off course from your goals and desires.  Fortunately, your fears can be pretty simple to recognize.

Your fear will typically show up in three common behaviors:

  • Avoidance: appears as not having enough time, inability to prioritize writing into your life.
  • Procrastination: occurs when you make time to write, yet find yourself distracted.  You may write a few paragraphs and when you find the flow has ceased, check your email or facebook instead (my favorite!). You may schedule time, yet not hold boundaries as to how exactly you use your writing time and instead have a snack (even though you aren’t that hungry), or take a call.
  • Worry:  shows up as any concern about your writing that inhibits you from moving forward with your work.  You may have self-doubts about your writing ability or whether anyone will like what you share.

When you find yourself falling into one or more of these behaviors, you are unconsciously choosing the path of failure over success.  Your ego (aka, your false self) tries to keep you protected through the illusion of safety in keeping your life the same.  Your fears are the self-sabotaging habits that surface when you set your goals in motion.

Follow these three steps to consciously choose success over failure:

1.  Recognize your “go-to” patterns of fear behavior. In detail, write out what exactly you do in order that you can become more conscious of your fear.  What is triggering you to turn to a fear behavior?  Are you feeling anxious or bored?  What are the words you are saying in your mind that takes you off track.  These details give you information that will help you recognize when your ego wants to take you off course because you are actually moving closer toward your goal.

2. Ask yourself what you specifically need to do instead that will be in alignment with your goal. Don’t just beat yourself over your fears and tell yourself you need to write.  This is an inner battle and you better have a plan, because your ego is one tough cookie!  If you avoid, set a start and finish date.  If you procrastinate, set boundaries in which you aren’t allowed to do anything but write.  If you worry, affirm your higher version of self rather than the scared one.  Meaning, every time a doubt appears, you affirm “My voice is needed!”

3. Address concerns about meeting your goal. Take the time to name what exactly you fear about your success and see what is underneath that.  Often at the core of what we fear about success is already occurring in our life to a lesser degree.  This means you can take measures now to address those fears and feel in greater alignment with the success you want to create in your life.

By applying these steps in your life, you are saving yourself endless hours of time wasted spent feeling frustrated because your writing isn’t moving forward as you like.  The more you are able to make conscious that which unconsciously drives you away from your goals, the more you are empowered to make successful choices.  Now you can use your fear as a signal to indicate that you are coming close to reaching your goals AND help you make your goals your reality!

About the Author. Psychotherapist and Life Coach Michelle Bersell holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago.  In addition, she has received a Masters in Education from DePaul University in Chicago and completed her undergraduate training at the University of Arizona in Tucson.  Visit her online at Michelle Bersell and Expanding Consciousness.


8 Responses

  1. Lisa

    Thank you Michelle for this pro-writing campaign!

    I have been in the avoidance phase for a while now, so your words inspire me to move on from there…
    The english language has brought me to write in the first place (which might explain some awkward sentence structure or mistakes in here) and maybe it can do so a second time. I spent a Highschool year in South Dakota, originally coming from Hamburg, Germany, and had a wonderful English teacher – Ms Hennesey.

    Praise to great women and language as a beautiful medium!

    All the best to you,

    1. writenowcoach

      Your note is written perfectly! How amazing that English is your second language. Glad to have you here and wonderful to know you are writing!

  2. “My voice is needed”- Yes! Thank you, Michelle.
    These days I find myself more afraid to lose it than use it. Recognizing and acknowledging fear in its many guises has certainly opened doors towards living more consciously. Recently, I am finding that many doors in my life are already open… I just need to step through… .

    In gratitude,

  3. Susan Neyrinck

    This post seems like a message form the universe. I have been thinking of trying to continue writing the story that is in my head and don’t know where to start. This just might be the key I need.

    1. Susan, you are right. If you read this article and it felt like a message to you – it is! Your ego tells you you don’t know where to begin. Your heart, on the other hand doesn’t care – just write. Wishing you great blessings on your writing journey!

  4. Wow! I spent all day yesterday avoiding, procrastinating and then worrying. I am very good at all three! Today is a brand new day and your post is ‘write’ on time. I am going to identify my fears and then set the kitchen timer for just one hr of writing. I can add more time, but that’s a good amount to start with. Thank you!


    1. Miranda – congratulations! You won Rochelle’s new book Write-A-Thon! Simply email me at to receive your book.

      I know avoidance, procrastination and worry as well. You are right, each day is a new day to tell your ego, you’re willing to move forward regardless of the fear. Each hour you do, it all adds up to you moving forward on your path. Congrats!

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