Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

Face Fear the Wright Way and Write Your Best Work

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?

Face your writing fears.

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.

How?

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:

W.R.I.T.I.N.G.

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.

Fly!

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.

crash

Wright Brothers – Crash – 1900

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.

Be awesome.

What have you been most afraid of regarding your writing? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins

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  • Lou Anna Claveau

    If I had to say what I was afraid it would be that I am not good enough to be read. I mean I am writing what I think it a good book. Friends and family tell me it’s great. They’re friends and family and I sometimes think it’s a requirement to be encouraging even if it’s junk. I am terrified of the honest review!

    • Aren’t we all! 🙂 Sometimes the only thing you can do is keep going and finish. There are no guarantees.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Thanks for another empowering message, Bryan!

    Yesterday, I read an article about a theory being espoused by a social psychologist. According to her research, focusing only on the positive gets you nowhere. That is, a dream by itself is useless. You need to act, and sometimes you need to envision the perceived obstacles in your mind to act.

    You might be interested in this contrarian theory:

    http://www.amazon.com/Rethinking-Positive-Thinking-Science-Motivation/dp/1591846870

    Thanks again
    Kitto

    • Thanks for sharing, I’ll check it out. But yes, I absolutely agree, visualizing doesn’t help if you don’t get to stepping and also do the actualizing. However, sometimes I sure wish it did work that way. 🙂

  • Marianne Kesler

    After writing a monthly blog for a year with positive comments but very few readers, I considered stopping. Instead I decided that I have things to say (if only to myself) that need to get out. So I continue. Wrote my newest piece called “Good Intentions” for the January 15th edition. Carry on! #amwriting http://www.mariannekesler.com/blog

  • I fear being bad. I fear being judged. I fear not finishing… so I never finish.

    But not today. Not anymore. Today I commit to working with fear, through fear.

    Here’s to the first 500 words of the first story I will ever finish!

  • Loved this! I’ve never heard that quote and will begin over-using it immediately! 🙂

  • Catherine

    I’m afraid that I’m too young. I’m afraid of my work not being good enough, being misinterpreted, or being turned into a joke. Worse- that no one will ever read it. I fear that I’ll let myself down- that this fear will prevent me from ever finishing any writing I want to set free.

    This post is brilliant. It has inspired me and helped me identify what was holding me back. I always thought it was something far larger and much more complicated, but it’s just as you described. It’s fear. I will come to learn to live with it.

    “Courage isn’t just the matter of not being frightened you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.”

    I have to write. I am a writer.

    • Good job, Catherine. Write and write. Don’t Forget that Arthur Rimbault was about 17 when he wrote his most beautiful poems. Don’t let lies and comparison kill your voice. One day, you will be mature but don’t allow anybody to despise you. Go ahead. You are unique and loved.

    • Indeed!

  • Cecelia Lester (Quiet Spirit)

    I don’t seem to find a market for my Christian devotional and Christian essays. Most of the devotional magazines are from other denominations and I fear that my beliefs and my writing would not be in synch with them.

  • This post summarises most writing journeys and The Wright Brothers are a great example of how determination can help us overcome doubt. The hardest part is to keep going but I guess every writer faces the same obstacles. Good to know we are in it together and the community of writers on this blog reminds me of that. Hope 2015 is the Year of the Writer.

    • It’s the year of Naomi Tsvirko for Naomi Tsvirko. Yes, the hardest part is to keep going, but that really just requires putting one foot in front of the other. As writers I think we overthink things all the time. Keep it simple and keep writing.

  • Waou !!! How do you know that I’m struggling with fear each morning. To write at least 500 miserable words. But I will not give up because If I can’t write, I’m dying in the inside, and I have to tell my story because it’s not about me it’s about God, forgiveness, redemption, restauration, gratitude, fear, life and misery. I don’t want to write like others, i just want to be me and touch people who need desperatly to find integrity and transparency. Thank you Brian for this great post. I started a short novel two months ago and wrote about 30 pages and i’m in the middle ot this first draft. Thank you Brian and have a blessed, creative, crazy, wonderful, scary year and don’t forget, in God’s arms we all can be secure and blessed 🙂

    • “Just want to be me.” And what a wonderful thing to be. I agree, great attitude. Keep writing.

  • I have much more confidence in my nonfiction writing than I do my fiction. With my novel, I’m afraid I’m not finding another literary agent because it’s not good enough.

  • Hi Bryan,

    Great post!

    I will be honest with you, when it comes to my writing, I had always feared acceptance rather than rejection.

    You see, when I first started freelance writing, the thing that kept me from becoming successful was not pitching article ideas to publications. The reason why I would not pitch ideas to pubs was because I feared, not that they would reject me, but that they would love my ideas and then I would have to deliver on what I promised.

    Lo and behold, every pub that I pitched article ideas to loved my ideas (as I feared), but I overcame my fear and produced top notch articles that each pub loved and couldn’t wait to share with their audience.

    Now, I can’t wait to write for these clients.

    • Yep. I’ve been there, too. In fact, my next post touches on this aspect a little. Thanks for sharing your story with us, William.

  • Willson John

    Great post!

    I will be honest with you, when it comes to my writing, I had always feared acceptance rather than rejection.This post is very helpful for those who just stared their career as professional writers like me. I will just started my career with http://iwriteprofessionals.com/ as freelancer writer.

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