Are you Scribeaphobic – Afraid to Write?

Maria Yakunchikova "Fear" 1893-95Image via Wikipedia

Some days I would rather do anything than write, which inevitably gives way to a game of self-deception.

The game begins with a glance out the window under the guise of seeking inspiration. I hone in on the dandelions instead.

“Must eliminate,” I mutter like a section eight patient and head outside to hunt down militant weeds.

After finishing my murderous rampage and disposing the dandelion remains in a body bag, I stopped to catch my breath by a flowering rhododendron plant. Powerfully pungent, a whiff of the fragrant fumes sent me into a hallucinogenic trance, killing brains cells I had put aside for writing.

“Nice try.” The now talking rhododendron said. “Get back in the house and write. You’ll grow more brain cells on the way.”

Not wanting to anger the rhododendron, I dropped the body bag and staggered back inside, collapsing by the foot of the stairs covered with dandelion DNA.

In penance for picking dandelions instead of words, I climbed the stairs on hands and knees and then embedded my butt into the chair in front of the computer. I peered into a cold, white screen that reminded me of a barren frozen wasteland. The thought chilled me, freezing my fingers and bones. Shaking uncontrollably, I retreated to the bedroom for a sweater and then returned to the blinding white screen that now beat down upon me like a hot Sahara sun.

I removed the sweater and typed three words, “Fear of Writing” then stopped. What if I can’t write anything of merit? I grabbed the mouse and moved the cursor to the Internet icon, deluding myself that I would find inspiration in cyberspace — Another self-deception.

I released the mouse and stared at the white screen that appeared to be staring back at me in a judgmental sort of way. My pulse raced and my mouth turned dry. I didn’t have to do a Google search to know that I was afraid to write.

What would a shrink say?

“Ms. Salkin, I’m afraid I have bad news. The symptoms you describe: sweaty palms, easily distracted, palpitations, dizziness can only mean one thing – Panic Scribe Syndrome.”

“Is it serious?” I asked.

“Only if you obsess on it like I do.”

“How can I cure myself of Panic Scribe Syndrome?”

“By writing.”

“Does the phrase ‘vicious cycle’ mean anything to you?” I screamed.

“I’m afraid that’s all the time we have.”

So, maybe a shrink wasn’t the answer. Maybe I needed to increase my dosage of Vitamin B, try Yoga, or Acupuncture. Maybe a morning jog down a slippery slope, or a spin around the neighborhood on a stationary bike would cure me of my fear of writing unless it killed me first.

Already mired in guilt from not writing anything good or bad, I succumbed to the “poor me” part of my brain and asked, Why do I write? Why do I attempt to write? I pondered the question for a minute or two before I concluded, because it makes me feel good.

Another of life’s ironies. How can something that makes you feel so good also make you feel so bad? I couldn’t answer the question. “Maybe I should Google it.”

“There you go again,” said the shrink echoing Ronald Regan’s words.

“You’re right,” I said. “I mean. I’m right.”

I dimmed the bright computer screen and positioned the cursor beneath the title, “Fear of Writing.” It only takes a second to become distracted. I typed, following the advice of the phantom shrink I neglected to pay.

“The only cure for Panic Scribe Syndrome is to write.”

Gee. I wish I had thought of that.

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26 Comments Are you Scribeaphobic – Afraid to Write?

  1. Kristen

    For someone who has a fear – you should do pull out a good one! – This week has been a rough one for me – maybe it's the weather or for me lack of flowers to talk to.

  2. Leeuna

    You have nothing to fear but fear itself. Your fears were groundless today. You wrote a fine post. You should be proud. Having said that, let me just say that I know where you're coming from. I have the same disorder. 🙂

  3. Ziva

    This might be one of my favorite posts of yours. I love the evil dandelions, the talking rhododendron, the blinding white highly judgmental screen…

    I refuse to admit I have a fear of writing. I have NOT got a fear of writing. I'm just lazy. Yes, lazy, that's it.

  4. ReformingGeek

    Keep your talking plants to yourself. I have enough problems with talking furniture and I'm easily distracted by shiny things.

    I'm proud of you for admitting you have a problem.


  5. Lauren

    Thanks Kristen!!! I wrote this a while ago and let it simmer in my mental crock pot. From time-to-time, writing scares me because I'm worried I won't produce anything worthwhile. But then I remember to just get something down and that doing so generally makes me feel good.

    James: You are so right. Rhododendrons are my muse. Actually, my hair gets tangled in them when I'm walking the dog. She doesn't understand the human height vs dog height ratio.

    Mrs. B: Thanks. It sucks being mentally handicapped.

    Thanks Leeuna: We should start a writing disorder group like AA.

    Ha! Ziva. Give in to your dark side and admit your writing fears. It's too easy to be lazy. Also, thanks. I'm glad you liked my weird characters.

    RF: It took me some time to realize that I had a disorder. Now I have to figure out how to stop the plants from talking.

  6. Ivy

    Wow… I never thought of you having a fear of writing. It almost makes my lack of preparation seem normal! You sure to recover well!

  7. Lauren

    Ivy: I think these days I'm more terrified to post a blog entry than to write. You can shred paper, but writing lasts forever in cyberspace.

    Adele: Thanks. I will definitely send it out. Really appreciate your input.

  8. Lauren

    Greg: Ha! But now I think I'm really scared of them. Rhododendrons look really creepy at night when there's a full moon.


    Very funny post Lauren and completely on target! In addition to dandelion picking, I also highly recommend non-toxic insect control procedures in your vegetable beds. It gets out all the bugs in my head when I'm blocked or have an attack of scrib-o-phobia!

  10. Lauren

    Snee: I've been trying to get the bugs out of my head for years. I never thought of using non-toxic insect control when blocked. Typically, I reach for the Mentamucil.

  11. Snuggle Wasteland

    I understand this all too well. The less I write the more intimidating it is to actually pull something together. It's big cycle for me.

  12. Sandee

    A cold adult beverage might be the answer too. Just saying. You pulled this off very nicely.

    Have a terrific day. 🙂

  13. Lauren

    SW: It's a huge problem from me, too, when I get stuck in the "I suck" mindset, which happens every couple of weeks. The only way to avoid digging a deeper hole is by writing extemporaneously.

    Hi Sandee: I love your suggestion. One adult beverage = delusions of grandeur. Glad you liked the post. Thanks!!!!! You, too.

  14. Anonymous


    I have a message for the webmaster/admin here at

    May I use part of the information from your blog post right above if I give a backlink back to this website?


    1. Lauren

      You are not alone! It’s easy to succumb to fear. I now know that the best cure for writer’s block, a.k.a. fear of writing, is to write.

      Thanks for visiting!


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