|Photo by dirlkie65|
In short, we’re afraid. And being afraid isn’t much fun. So what do to about it? Let’s take a look at ten methods for cracking our whips at our fears and forcing them to respond to our shouts of “back, back, vicious beast!”
1. Identify your fear.
As kids cowering under the bed sheets, we found the monsters lurking in the shadows all the more terrifying because we couldn’t actually see them. If we’d had the courage to get out of bed and poke around in our closets, those innocent little gray dust bunnies would have proven far less hideous than our vague imaginings. Try to figure out exactly what it is that’s got you spooked.
2. Eliminate pseudo-fears.
It’s easy to blow things out of proportion. For example, we could easily chew our nails ragged worrying about what the world thinks of us as authors and people. But, so long as it doesn’t hurt book sales, the opinions of someone we’ll never meet aren’t likely to hurt us. Don’t spend your time worrying about things that might go wrong, especially when those things can only hurt you when you let them.
Once you’ve figured out the things that really and truly have you scared right down to the holes in your socks, sit yourself in front of a mirror and start venting. Talk about how scared you are—and how much you hate being scared. Sometimes just blowing off steam can do wonders for making you feel better.
4. Find a sympathetic ear.
Grab a friend or family member—or, better yet, another writer who’s been in your shoes and overcome his own fears—and go over your concerns. Let them help you work through your problems and let yourself take heart from their encouragement, even if it’s just the good ol’ standby “everything’ll be okay.”
5. List the pros and cons of your fear.
Let’s say your biggest fear is being rejected by an agent. Sit down and write a list of the things that will result from this happening—good and bad. On the bad side of the list, you might write down your inevitable discouragement; but, on the good side, you can make note of the fact that you’ll grow stronger from the experience. Balancing out the pros and cons of your fear can help you see things in perspective—and perhaps even realize the pros outweigh the cons.
6. Remember why you’re writing.
Review all the things you love about writing. If those things aren’t worth the fear, there’s no reason you can’t stop and walk away right now. But, if you decide you can’t walk away from writing no matter how much it sometimes hurts, you’ll realize your fears are a small price to pay.
7. Allow yourself to make mistakes.
You can lift a lot of pressure off your shoulders by giving yourself permission to make messes. No one’s perfect. Why should you be? Make mistakes, recognize your mistakes, forgive yourself for them, maybe even laugh over them. Then move on and try again. Samuel Beckett said, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
8. Streamline your process.
No one’s ever said writing is easy. But don’t make matters more difficult for yourself than you need to. Find the system that works best for you—for writing, revising, and querying—and stick with it. Eliminate unnecessary work and distractions whenever possible.
9. Reward yourself.
When you do something tough—when you send out that query in spite of the last 50 rejections—give yourself a prize. The bigger the fear you’ve overcome, the bigger the prize (or should we say bribe?) should be. If you finish your book by the end of the year, buy yourself a vacation, an iPad, a new pair of Snoopy slippers—whatever floats your rubber ducky.
10. Embrace your fear.
Sometimes you can’t finesse your way through fear. Sometimes you have to hitch up your jodhpurs, grab your chair and whip, and march into that lion’s cage to confront the thing that scares you the most. But don’t stop at just confronting it. Use it. Get in the habit of moving toward your fears instead of away from them. You may find your fear is the perfect fuel to create your best bit of writing yet!
Tell me your opinion: What's the writing fear you're most proud of overcoming?
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