It’s dreadful. It’s suffocating. It’s absolutely, completely and utterly, debilitating.
Yes. Yes it can be. It can be all of those things. So how do you beat the fear that’s holding you back?
I’ve been asked so many times how I overcame my fears. The truth is, though, I haven’t.
I live with fear every day.
The difference between now and before is that I no longer let my fears eat me alive and control me, and I certainly don’t allow them to stop me from creating work I care about.
It’s probably not the answer you’re looking for. But then, that’s why we rarely ever find it.
You will always be afraid. And sometimes, sometimes you’ll be very afraid.
And that’s okay.
It means you’re alive. You’re human. You’re an artist.
You’re a writer, dammit.
It means you create work you care about and, your work matters!
People who are creative live in perpetual fear. We fear no one will care, we fear looking stupid and we fear not living up to someone else’s expectations. We fear haters and we fear praise (what’s too much and what’s too little?).
There’s a lot for an artist to be afraid of, and boy, does it get to us!
The difference between writers who actually create work and those who don’t is a very fine line between giving in to one’s fear and creating anyway, willing to look like a fool, to create imperfect work, and quite frankly, to be an artist.
We’re all afraid. Every day.
Being afraid is normal.
At least, if you’re human it is.
Create, and be the writer you’re meant to be. (Click to Tweet)
It’s okay to be afraid. In fact, it’s required. No one’s ever created anything worthwhile they didn’t fear wouldn’t work. Once we understand that and accept it, we can only then finally live with our fears and create our best work.
I’d love to describe what it feels like to not be afraid, but if I’m honest, I’ve never felt that way.
Fear isn’t your enemy. Paralysis is. And paralysis is caused by doubt.
Fear isn’t your enemy. Paralysis is. (Click to Tweet)
Now that, my fellow writers, is something to be afraid of.
However, the good news is that there’s a very effective (but not always simple) cure against paralysis and for writers, it’s called:
Visualize to Actualize
If you have difficulty getting yourself to start writing (and who doesn’t?), try visualizing yourself tip-tapping away at your keyboard, whizzing along in The Flow.
Visualize the end result, see yourself in a major bookstore with stacks of your books on a table ready for eager readers to scoop up and have signed by you.
We enjoy flying today thanks to the determination of the Wright Brothers, but did you know they visualized flying even after failure after failure? Their fears of failure, of crashing, which all too often came true, couldn’t stop them.
In Geneviève Behrend’s book, Your Invisible Power and How to Use It, published in 1921, she writes that one of the Wright brothers would tell the other (after yet another failure), “It’s all right, brother, I can see myself riding in that machine, and it travels easily and steadily.” (Source)
See yourself writing, because after all, let’s be honest, you know you really and truly are a writer.
You will crash and burn (we all do), and if you submit your work for publication you will get rejected and you will also eventually publish work that no one seems to care about except you.
And you know what? That’s okay.
The Wright brothers were ridiculed and laughed at, and people told them they were absolutely nuts, and yet, they did what everyone said could not be done.
You will succeed, too, but you will have your share of setbacks, and at times your fears will seem overwhelming and doubt will cause you to freeze and give up. When that happens, remember what one Wright brother told the other:
It’s all right, brother, I can see myself riding in that machine, and it travels easily and steadily.
Whenever you feel the fear and are doubtful, read the Wright brothers quote again (consider printing and framing it), and visualize stacks of your published books your readers are eagerly waiting for you to sign.
Now go, write easily and steadily.
What have you been most afraid of regarding your writing? Let’s talk about it in the comments.