Fear or Fear Itself?Posted: September 1, 2012
Fear can be a huge motivating or limiting factor in life. What are we really afraid of? As writers we are putting our hearts, souls, thoughts, ideals, values and blood, sweat and tears out there for others to examine. For a most people those are risks they are not willing to take, hence there are so few writers. Fear is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as both a noun and a verb.
n. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
v. be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.
Now I personally believe that fear, when it comes to writing, is mostly linked to the pain or painful part of those definitions. No one likes to be criticized. Even if true it can be hurtful. But the thing I keep learning as I get older is that what I once thought as huge, big, scary and I-am-NOT-doing-that changes due to my experiences and attitude. Growing up I lived in fear of the “what if”. What if I ask and they say no? What if no one likes me? What if I do something someone doesn’t like? I spent a lot of negative energy consumed with these questions. Age, and a few hard knocks, made me realize that I was paralyzed by the fear, mostly by the last one as no one liking it. So in order to try and change my perspective, I tried looking at the other side of the equation. Basically I asked myself what is the worst that can happen? Now I’ve always had a creative side to me and I can make some really intense worst case scenarios. But I found that what it all really boiled down to in most cases was someone said no or didn’t like what I was doing (hmm, I think I’m seeing a theme here).
Of course the next step was critically looking at what that possible worst case scenario meant to ME as a person. Was it really ME they were rejecting or my work? The first part of that was what did I do if it was a rejection of me? Well, I am usually my own worst critic. I generally don’t go around inviting other people to disprove of me on a regular basis. I don’t need that kind of toxicity in my life. In that case, nice to meet you and have a nice life. Secondly, almost always it was the work. Could I live with that? You bet. Writing in fiction isn’t supposed to please everyone. It cannot by default. Everyone has their own opinion about how things should be done, how things should end, and how we should try to get there. Try to please everyone and everyone will be disappointed. So the one person that you should be trying to please is yourself. There are others out there that may agree with none, all or part of what you are doing. Don’t do it for them, do it for you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Always do what you are afraid to do.” Take a risk. Try something new. You might surprise yourself. Remember that at one point in time NONE of us knew how to speak, walk, run, read, write, do simple math, and any number of other things. We all had to try it the first time. Once we took that risk most of us thought, hey, I can do this. The point is that we didn’t give up. Do something positive for yourself. Now keep doing it.