The Fear

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:

Write.*

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.

 

Comments: 9

 
 
 

I feel you. I’m afraid of sooooo much in the writing world, but I just keep writing anyway. It’s the only way to keep sane, haha. 🙂

 

 

I’m right there with you. Fear is a killer, but you’ve got to fight it. It can’t win, because if it does, what’s the point of any of this. :hugs:

 

 

Jen–it’s one of those paradoxes. We must be at least a touch crazy to do this–but it keeps us sane.

B.E.–to completely switch metaphors, I have my sword out and I’m ready for battle. :hugs back, but carefully so as not to poke you with my sword:

 

 

This is an amazing post. In fact, I just wrote something similar, but not solely about writing. You have a point, though. When the fear sets in, instead of giving in, why not just start working towards forgetting it?

 

 

Allow me to conquer your fears:

I’m afraid that I’ll never make it as far as I want to.

It might happen. All you can do is keep trying until you lose interest (see below).

I’m afraid that the words will stop coming.

It won’t happen.

I’m afraid that the ideas will dry up.

It won’t happen.

I’m afraid that each novel won’t live up to what I have in my head.

It will always happen. That’s why you keep revising, keep spit-shining it until it is a gleaming as an army boot.

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.

It ain’t happening, at least as far as I’m concerned.

I’m afraid that my learning rate will plateau, that I’ll reach a point where I can’t improve anymore.

It won’t happen unless you become mentally impared somehow. Watch that noggin! Don’t slip and fall!

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.

It might happen, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

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.

It might happen. In which case, you’ll probably find some other pastime to love.

Allow me to quote the Bible: Do not be afraid.

Do what you love, for as long as you love it.

 

 

Ellegant: Exactly. It can only win if we let it.

Tia: That was excellent. You pushed back hard at every fear I listed. You should consider going into counseling!

 

 

Thanks! Being over 40 has its perks!!

 

 

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself… and the little green goblins devouring the motherboards in our heads. They are what dry up the words. Why, oh why can’t they just feast on some of the memories I would LOVE to forget, and leave the words alone?

 

 

Steven, I like to grab a large slotted spoon and a good sandwich bag (not the cheap ones!) and scoop those suckers right out of the mental motherboard. They’re slippery and it takes time, but once I get them all gathered up, I’m good to go for the day.

Until the cat finds them and lets them out to play, and then we’re all screwed.

 

 

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