In our technologically advanced society, we type more than we write. Teachers don’t bother with handwriting and cursive lessons anymore, and instead they teach typing skills and make sure their students know their way around a keyboard. Emails have replaced letters, and text messages have replaced phone calls. Facebook messages have replaced customer service lines, and Twitter feeds have replaced radio news.

You’d think with all this reliance on text we’d all be confident in our abilities to spell, use grammar correctly, and write in general. However, for some people, it’s just the opposite. Instead of being confident, some people are even more self-conscious about their writing skills. That fear of writing is called graphophobia, and it can be triggered by a seemingly unlikely source.

Does Your Writing Measure Up?

Our smartphones have autocorrect, and every time we type on the computer there’s an automatic spelling and grammar checker that’s scrutinizing our work. While this is normally very helpful, it can also seem intimidating to some who aren’t confident in their writing abilities. Rather than see so many squiggly red lines underneath their work, they’d prefer a method they know they can handle: talking on the phone. The error messages of spelling and grammar checkers can be too big of an ego blow to take. Instead of sending an email that they fear could be rife with errors, they can pick up the phone and make sure their message gets across accurately.

Do You Have Graphophobia?

If you’re often worried that your writing may show off your shortcomings, you might have graphophobia. It’s more common with older people, because younger people are more accustomed to texts and emails as a normal form of communication. It’s noted that the younger generation has fewer social skills and lacks confidence on the telephone, but for people who weren’t raised with smartphones and email accounts, that technology can seem daunting. If someone’s work is harshly critiqued by a spelling and grammar checker, they might think they’re better off doing things the “old-fashioned” way, in which their errors would be more limited.

How Can You Overcome Graphophobia?

Sometimes in order to overcome your fears, it’s necessary to face them head-on. One way to overcome graphophobia and improve your writing is to ask the people you write to for their constructive criticism. Ask them for feedback on how you can improve your writing and make your message come across more clearly. Their insight can help you identify the areas in which you need improvement, as well as the areas you already do well in.

Fortunately, graphophobia can also be overcome with practice that doesn’t necessarily involve other people. While spelling and grammar checkers seem like the enemy, you can actually use them to your advantage. Putting your work into a powerful grammar and spelling checker can help you learn to recognize your own mistakes in your writing. The more you practice and assess your own work, the better you’ll be at writing without errors from the very beginning, and the fewer squiggly red lines you’ll be forced to deal with.

Guest Blogger: Lisa Hann