The Fear of Looking Dumb

By Milli Thornton

During orientation in the Fear of Writing Online Course there’s a lesson called “A Tip for Avoiding Self-Induced Torture in the Student Forums.” This is where I ask students not to read other students’ assignments before they write their own. Here’s why, in the words of one of the students who did it anyway:

I do have to admit that I have looked at posts prior to writing mine. By doing that, I think I did myself and my fellow students a disservice. I did not allow my imagination to take over. Instead, I felt stifled, stuck within the words of others. I was in a box and could not think outside of that box.

Why would students do this to themselves, even though I warn them ahead of time by quoting the regrets of several bygone students (and with a well-placed graphic of a Renaissance man with a noose around his neck)?

Because they fear looking dumb.

In a panic over not understanding some written directions, instead of getting help from their very own personal course presenter, students will secretly go read the assignments of other students in an attempt to figure it out alone.

After running this course for 10+ years, I did not realize how deep this fear ran until recently, when some of my grad students have been discussing it in a student forum. I was shocked to know they were still subjecting themselves to that self-induced torture—especially because I post all over the place in neon lights that students need to get help if they have a question or problem. And we’re very friendly and approachable when students need help.

It’s our pleasure to help.

But the fear of looking dumb is powerful. So powerful that people will stay alone with it rather than risk exposing the innocent detail that they didn’t understand an assignment. I always feel very sad when I see this.

Next time you’re having fear that you don’t understand something, try reaching out. Naturally, pick your mark. Don’t go to someone who you already know (or suspect) will make you feel stupid. But do take the risk. Staying alone with your questions out of a fear of looking dumb can come with a very high price.

There’s nothing dumb about getting help. Only in cutting yourself off from it.

———Milli Thornton, owner, Fear of Writing Online Course

Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli also blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and Milliver’s Travels and coaches writers at Writer’s Muse.



Fear of Writing Online Course | Blog comments are much appreciated



106 thoughts on “The Fear of Looking Dumb

  1. Marcie Romanik

    Nice blog here! Also your website loads up very fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

    Reply
  2. Gregg Glaza

    It’s the best time to make a few plans for the longer term and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this put up and if I may just I want to counsel you few interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you could write subsequent articles referring to this article. I wish to learn even more issues about it!

    Reply
  3. Nestor Pastorino

    It’s really a great and useful piece of info. I’m happy that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  4. Marquis Lavelett

    Thanks for sharing your ideas. I’d personally also like to express that video games have been at any time evolving. Technology advances and improvements have aided create sensible and interactive games. These kind of entertainment games were not as sensible when the actual concept was first of all being attempted. Just like other forms of technologies, video games way too have had to evolve as a result of many generations. This is testimony towards the fast growth and development of video games.

    Reply
  5. Johnnie Havenhill

    Simply wish to say your article is as astounding. The clarity for your post is just nice and i could think you are a professional on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grasp your RSS feed to keep updated with drawing close post. Thanks one million and please continue the gratifying work.

    Reply
  6. furtdsolinopv

    Hey there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I’m confident they will be benefited from this web site.

    Reply
  7. Matilda

    Hi! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My weblog looks weird when viewing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to
    find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve this issue.
    If you have any recommendations, please share. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Christal

    We are a bunch of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme
    in our community. Your site provided us with useful info to work on. You’ve done a formidable job
    and our entire community will be grateful to you.

    Reply
  9. Elden

    Hi there to every body, it’s my first pay a visit of
    this webpage; this website consists of awesome and actually good information in favor
    of readers.

    Reply
  10. Alex

    Hi! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.
    I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

    Reply
  11. Nickolas

    My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was totally right.
    This publish actually made my day. You can not consider simply how a lot time
    I had spent for this information! Thanks!

    Reply
  12. Gena

    Hey! I realize this is somewhat off-topic however I had to ask.
    Does building a well-established website like yours take a lot of work?
    I am brand new to blogging however I do write in my diary on a daily basis.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for
    brand new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!

    Reply
  13. Tabatha

    I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for magnificent information I was looking for this info for my mission.

    Reply
  14. Maxie

    all the time i used to read smaller articles or reviews which also clear their motive, and that is also happening with this article which I
    am reading at this time.

    Reply
  15. Jasmin

    Hi I am so thrilled I found your blog page, I really found you by accident, while I was looking
    on Bing for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to
    say kudos for a marvelous post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have
    time to read through it all at the moment but I
    have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have
    time I will be back to read more, Please do
    keep up the fantastic work.

    Reply
  16. Valeria

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to find somebody who actually understands
    what they are talking about on the web. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important.

    More and more people have to look at this and understand
    this side of the story. I can’t believe you’re not more popular since
    you most certainly have the gift.

    Reply
  17. Jim

    It’s actually very difficult in this full of activity life to listen news on Television, thus I just use world wide web for that purpose, and
    obtain the most up-to-date information.

    Reply
  18. Johnnie

    Definitely consider that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the web the easiest thing to
    bear in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while folks consider
    issues that they just do not know about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the top and also
    defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a
    signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thank you

    Reply
  19. Adela

    Hello! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to
    make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when browsing from my iphone.
    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to
    correct this issue. If you have any recommendations, please share.
    Cheers!

    Reply
  20. Ignacio

    I do not know whether it’s just me or if perhaps
    everyone else experiencing problems with your blog.
    It appears as if some of the written text within your posts are running
    off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me
    know if this is happening to them as well? This could be a issue with my browser because I’ve had this happen before.
    Appreciate it

    Reply
  21. Darell

    I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your weblog.
    Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems?
    A few of my blog audience have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks
    great in Safari. Do you have any solutions to help fix this issue?

    Reply
  22. Ruby

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to uncover a person that genuinely understands what
    they are talking about over the internet. You definitely know how
    to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people have to read this and understand
    this side of your story. I was surprised you are not more
    popular since you definitely have the gift.

    Reply
  23. Laurel

    We’re a gaggle of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our
    community. Your website provided us with valuable info
    to work on. You have done a formidable process and our whole group will probably be grateful to you.

    Reply
  24. Ollie

    Great goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely fantastic.
    I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way
    in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it sensible.

    I can not wait to read far more from you. This is actually a wonderful website.

    Reply
  25. Zane

    Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my
    iPad and tested to see if it can survive a forty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she
    has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with
    someone!

    Reply
  26. Jerry

    Attractive component of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to claim that I get actually enjoyed account your
    blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feeds or even I fulfillment
    you access persistently quickly.

    Reply
  27. Fidel

    Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content.

    Please let me know. Thanks

    Reply
  28. Violette

    Helpful information. Fortunate me I found your site unintentionally,
    and I am stunned why this coincidence didn’t took place in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

    Reply
  29. Carmela

    Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you
    using for this website? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve
    had problems with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform.
    I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    Reply
  30. Murray

    Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for information approximately this
    topic for a long time and yours is the greatest I’ve found out
    so far. However, what about the bottom line?
    Are you certain concerning the supply?

    Reply
  31. Bernadine

    Hey fantastic website! Does running a blog such as this require a great deal
    of work? I have no expertise in programming however I was hoping to start
    my own blog in the near future. Anyhow, should you
    have any suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I know this is off topic nevertheless I simply needed to ask.
    Kudos!

    Reply
  32. Denise

    My brother suggested I would possibly like this web site.
    He used to be totally right. This post actually made my day.
    You can not believe just how much time I had spent
    for this info! Thanks!

    Reply
  33. Nona

    Do you have a spam problem on this website; I also am a
    blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we have developed some nice practices and we are looking to exchange
    techniques with other folks, be sure to shoot me an e-mail if
    interested.

    Reply
  34. Rosetta

    A person essentially help to make seriously articles I would state.
    This is the very first time I frequented your website page and
    thus far? I amazed with the research you made to make
    this actual publish amazing. Excellent job!

    Reply
  35. Alma

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to
    be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang
    of it!

    Reply
  36. Madeline

    magnificent issues altogether, you just gained a logo
    new reader. What may you recommend about your put up that you just made some days in the past?
    Any positive?

    Reply
  37. Roslyn

    Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.

    Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You
    have done a extraordinary job!

    Reply
  38. Elise

    always i used to read smaller content that as well clear their motive, and
    that is also happening with this piece of writing
    which I am reading at this time.

    Reply
  39. Darla

    wonderful submit, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t realize this.
    You should proceed your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

    Reply
  40. Joseph

    whoah this weblog is great i really like studying your posts.

    Stay up the great work! You realize, lots of people are hunting round for this information, you
    could aid them greatly.

    Reply
  41. Skye

    What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely useful and it has helped me out loads.
    I am hoping to contribute & assist other users like its aided me.
    Great job.

    Reply
  42. Santo

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but,
    I’d like to send you an email. I’ve got some suggestions
    for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way,
    great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

    Reply
  43. Katherine

    My coder is trying to convince me to move to .net
    from PHP. I have always disliked the idea
    because of the costs. But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on several websites for about a year and
    am nervous about switching to another platform.
    I have heard very good things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import
    all my wordpress content into it? Any help would be really appreciated!

    Reply
  44. Isis

    Hi, I do think this is a great website. I stumbledupon it 😉
    I may return yet again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way
    to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.

    Reply
  45. Almeda

    Excellent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely excellent.
    I really like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you
    are saying and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it sensible.
    I can’t wait to read much more from you. This is actually a terrific
    website.

    Reply
  46. Ramona

    It’s truly very difficult in this active life to listen news on Television,
    thus I simply use world wide web for that
    reason, and get the latest information.

    Reply
  47. Maurine

    I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here. The sketch is
    tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you
    command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase.

    Reply
  48. Ken

    Simply want to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity on your publish is just cool and that i can think you are knowledgeable on this subject.
    Fine with your permission let me to clutch your feed to keep up to date
    with forthcoming post. Thank you one million and please keep up
    the enjoyable work.

    Reply
  49. Eddy

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually feel this amazing site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!

    Reply
  50. Herman

    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog
    and check again here frequently. I am quite certain I will learn plenty
    of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

    Reply
  51. John

    fantastic publish, very informative. I ponder why the opposite experts of this sector do not notice this.
    You should continue your writing. I am confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

    Reply
  52. minecraft

    Usually I do not learn article on blogs, however I wish to say that this
    write-up very forced me to take a look at and do so! Your writing taste
    has been amazed me. Thank you, very great post.

    Reply
  53. minecraft

    I am extremely inspired with your writing talents as smartly as with
    the layout on your blog. Is this a paid subject or did you modify
    it yourself? Either way stay up the excellent
    high quality writing, it’s rare to look a great weblog like this one these days..

    Reply
  54. minecraft

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without
    a doubt donate to this superb blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle
    for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to new updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group.
    Chat soon!

    Reply
  55. minecraft

    Howdy very cool site!! Man .. Excellent .. Wonderful .. I’ll bookmark your site and take the feeds
    also? I am glad to seek out numerous useful info here in the post,
    we’d like work out extra techniques on this regard, thanks for sharing.

    . . . . .

    Reply
  56. minecraft

    I just like the helpful info you supply to your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more
    right here frequently. I am slightly certain I will learn many new stuff right right here!
    Good luck for the following!

    Reply
  57. minecraft

    This is very fascinating, You’re a very professional blogger.
    I have joined your feed and look ahead to looking
    for extra of your wonderful post. Also, I have shared your web
    site in my social networks

    Reply
  58. minecraft

    I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s
    a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme?
    Excellent work!

    Reply
  59. minecraft

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my
    own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get setup?

    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% sure. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Cheers

    Reply
  60. minecraft

    I’m curious to find out what blog system you happen to be
    using? I’m experiencing some minor security problems with my latest site and I’d like to
    find something more safeguarded. Do you have any suggestions?

    Reply
  61. Casimira

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like
    you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you
    can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other
    than that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic read.
    I will definitely be back.

    Reply
  62. minecraft

    I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to
    come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Exceptional work!

    Reply
  63. minecraft

    We stumbled over here different web page and
    thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.
    Look forward to checking out your web page yet again.

    Reply
  64. zvodret iluret

    Thank you for any other informative blog. The place else could I am getting that kind of info written in such an ideal method? I have a venture that I am just now operating on, and I have been at the glance out for such information.

    Reply
  65. minecraft

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening.
    I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this information together.
    I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    Reply
  66. Lea

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I in finding It really useful & it helped me out a lot.
    I hope to give something again and aid others like you aided me.

    Reply
  67. Larae

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each
    time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the
    same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Many thanks!

    Reply
  68. Lilly

    Someone essentially help to make critically articles I might state.

    That is the very first time I frequented your website page and so far?
    I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular publish
    amazing. Fantastic job!

    Reply
  69. Jake

    Hey there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 3gs!

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!

    Carry on the excellent work!

    Reply
  70. Nola

    I love what you guys tend to be up too. This kind of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the terrific works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my own blogroll.

    Reply
  71. Mona

    I’ve been surfing on-line greater than 3 hours today, but I never found
    any interesting article like yours. It is pretty value enough for me.
    In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made excellent
    content material as you probably did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.

    Reply
  72. minecraft

    I like the valuable information you supply to your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again right here
    frequently. I am relatively certain I’ll learn many new stuff proper right here!
    Good luck for the following!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *