Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Fear

Not-so-dear Fear,

You come in many different forms and in many different places. You come as phobias and as thoughts. I know that when I have completely irrational—or rational—fears about things, I go to my faith and all the Bible verses I memorized about not being afraid, and that helps me. I know that there are many other ways that other people have of dealing with you.

But today, specifically, I'm going to talk about what happens when you try to wheedle into writing. I can't speak for every writer, but I know that a great majority of writers go experience periods where you wind through minds and hearts and make them question.

What if I can't write this?

What if my book isn't good enough?

What if most people hate it?

What if it's too boring?

What if it doesn't flow?

For me, everything seems to have increased because I'm published now, and in a way, this raises the bar.  This adds a new aspect of you.  Shouldn't everything I write be publishable?

What if I write this story and it's not publishable?

I'd go a step further and say that this branch of you, Fear, can expand to all sorts of arts, projects, and dreams. Is it overall a fear of failure that haunts people in this way? Sounds like it to me. It sure feels like it to me sometimes—those times when doubt creeps in, when I'm not sure it's good enough.

Here's the thing, though. It's okay to fail. It's okay if the first words aren't perfect, if the story isn't perfect. I learn through failure. I grow through failure. I fix what needs to be fixed, I have people who will help me—people who will be honest with me so that I can improve.

If I feel like I can't write something because I'm floundering, I will talk to my friends who tell me, "You can do this. Commit." If it's not good enough, I can try to make it better. If most people hate it, maybe it won't be published, but it was worth the journey. Each story is worth it, because I learn, I grow, I find and explore characters I might not have otherwise.

I will take criticism and learn from it. I will remember the joy that the words and characters and new worlds bring me—even if they also bring frustration at times. There's a balance of having confidence in what I write and having humility to know there is always room for improvement and growth.

I will write for many, many reasons, but I won't give up because of you. I can't let you worm into me and immobilize me because of what ifs.

Not being dragged down by you,


  1. I have the same fears, all the time. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I ask myself those same questions every day. Good to know I'm not alone.

  3. Great post! It's so easy to let fear eat at my confidence. I love how you combat your fears!

  4. Good for you for not letting the fear get to you! It is an act of courage to write or express yourself. I think this is why it's good to write every day or most days--if you go too long without doing it, then the fear can really feel insurmountable.

  5. This is a well timed read for me! I wrote the second book in my trilogy immediately after the first book, but didn't read it for six years. I proclaimed boldly that I was going to edit the books and publish them at set dates . . . and then I got to reading.

    My heart sank further and further the nearer I came to the end. I knew the ending, in principle, but didn't really know how much I'd hate it in practice. I sat and stewed on it for a week, finally discussing it with a dear friend who's provided feedback every bit of the way.

    When I told her how the book went down, her response was:

    Exactly the feeling in my heart. Immediately, I told myself there was no salvaging it. It'd have to be a total rewrite, which would be painful to get it to the third. And then I got to thinking, what would I do if this were work? I'd look for logical ways to change smaller pieces of the story and see if there was any way to salvage the core.

    Maybe 38 seconds later, I went, "What if [x]? Oh I kinda like that! And then, if I did [y]. I could probably also do [g], and that would be even better than what I've got now!"

    I'm with you. Imma kick fear in the junk as quick as I can, because fear is just the universe's way of challenging you to understand what you're really capable of . . . if you don't give in!

  6. I'm not published...yet. And of course I try to keep that attitude, but fear will creep right in and take over the reins. I have to learn to turn it off and just simply write.

    Great post!

  7. Good post! I catch fear trickling in all time and have to work hard to push it down. It can be almost paralyzing at times in terms of getting writing or editing done.

    Good luck on the A to Z Challenge!

  8. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and stories! It's so encouraging to read what other people go through in writing journeys (and life journeys) and to learn how they overcome the negative thoughts that can plague.

  9. Excellent! It's so true what you said. If we look at it from the perspective of learning from our mistakes, it isn't so scary anymore.

    Well done!


  10. This is great, especially since I've been pondering what keeps us from achieving our dreams. Fear is on the top of the list for many!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!