Fear is a huge thing in this writing game.
I’m afraid that I’ll never make it as far as I want to.
I’m afraid that the words will stop coming.
I’m afraid that the ideas will dry up.
I’m afraid that each novel won’t live up to what I have in my head.
I’m afraid that my readers, when they give me praise, are just trying to be nice–and that I’ll think I’m better than I really am.
I’m afraid that my learning rate will plateau, that I’ll reach a point where I can’t improve anymore.
I’m afraid that my genre will go south, that agents won’t be interested and editors won’t be acquiring it when I finally manage to write the right book.
I’m afraid–and yes, this is ridiculous–that I’ll stop loving the writing. I’m afraid it’ll become a chore to me, that it’ll be tainted with the bitterness of rejection.
I’m just plain afraid.
Fear is like a disease. It spreads from one thought to the next, infecting each with anxiety and doubt. If not treated soon enough, it can disable and destroy you.
I don’t know how you treat it. Everyone has their own methods. Mine is fairly simple, and can be condensed into one word:
When I’m writing, it’s so much easier to push the fears back. Yes, they’re still there, lurking in the dark corners of my mind. But the writing quiets them, calms them, makes it easier to concentrate on what’s important. Maybe it’s just because the writing distracts me, but I think it’s something else: the love of writing is strong enough to beat back fear.
So when those dark corners grow larger and larger, when the voice of doubt shouts louder than the others, I sit down and I write. Or I think about my next project, and let the excitement for it do its job. Or I just remember all the good times, those thrilling moments when the characters become real, when the right words are close at hand, when the plot takes an unexpected turn.
Before I know it, I’m smiling. And that right there is the first step of recovery.
*Please consult your health professional before seeking treatment. Side effects may include euphoria, voices in your head, grammar nazi-ism, and obsession with fictional characters of your own creation. If you find yourself sitting in a cafe, wearing a beret and talking about “your art” or “the craft”, please contact your doctor immediately.