Make your voice heard
Laptop, pen and flowers with text overlay – Lessons from a writer’s worst nightmare. How to perform for a crowd

Overcoming writing anxiety.

How to ‘perform’ in front of a crowd.

Have you ever had to write creatively with someone watching your every word?

The other week one of my clients briefed me to rewrite some web content. This time, it was sent to me in Google Docs – ‘live’ documents with 15 people ‘virtually’ looking over my shoulder.

Laptop, pen and flowers with text overlay – Do you suffer from writing anxiety? 5 ways to perform in front of a crowd

Laptop, pen and flowers with text overlay – Lessons from a writer’s worst nightmare. How to perform for a crowd

I warned my client not to be alarmed about the way in which I was about to tackle the project. My crowd of 15 was about to learn:

  • I don’t start with the Home page and chronologically make my way with perfection to the Contact page.
  • To write a headline or a one-sentence introduction could take an hour or more of tweaking and massaging words – spread over a couple of days as the context of the surrounding words changed with my other modifications.
  • Once the content looked pretty good, I’d come back to it yet again for another round of polishing.

Luckily, I have the confidence to say “this is how I work”. But if you haven’t been writing long, or still don’t have the confidence you should when you write, here are a few lessons that resurfaced for me during this project.

1. You get what you wait for
Even when your client, your boss, your team, or whoever needs your document, needs it ‘yesterday’, they have to expect it will take time if they want quality content.

That’s because you’ll need time to marinate ideas, work on words and consider the big picture stuff that puts your writing into context. Think headlines, images, layout and the type of document.

Write with more confidence with 3 simple tricks.

2. Getting your head around it
No one knows the subject matter better than the client – the person you’re writing for. The writer needs time to get their head around it too. Reading is the first step, but I also find that as you write and edit, ideas solidify and thoughts are clarified. Which leads to my next point…

3. The perfect first draft
There’s no such thing as a perfect first draft. Rarely, anyway. Words and ideas must change as content is added or altered. Anyone who writes – whether they’re a professional writer or someone who simply needs to write (emails, reports, web content) – knows that nothing appears on the screen perfectly the first time round.

It takes time, it takes breaks and it takes rounds of revisions. So don’t put yourself under pressure to produce your best words the first time round.

4. What heckling?!
Try not to worry about what people are thinking as you write. We all work better when we’re relaxed – not anxious. So take that tea break. Take a breath. And come back ready to shrug off any virtual heckling.

5. Can’t perform in front of the crowd?
If worse comes to worst, you can always edit privately – and without the distraction of Track Changes – in your own document before pasting it back into the live one. All this does is add a little more time to what we all know is a time-consuming task.

What uncomfortable writing situations have you encountered or overcome? Share your thoughts, below.

Want to produce better writing?

Join the WriteWell community and receive valuable resources that will improve your writing, including tips, cheat sheets and more. Here’s a taster:

Receive more writing tips – free into your inbox. Join here!

Share the love

Like this writing tip? Share it with your friends and colleagues.