Every writer faces hurdles. They are a fact of life. Many factors play into the writing life.
The ability to say what you mean in interesting and understandable ways.
But there is one thing that surpasses all of the skill and talent in the world. A friend of mine calls it stick-to-it-ivity. Without it, you’re just a well-intentioned and talented wannabe.
There’s definitely a lot of stick-to-it-ivity involved in writing but there’s more to most writing problems than not being able to stick with something.
In a word…
Fear comes in many forms. Some of them are obvious.
- Fear of failure
- Fear of backlash
- Fear of rejection or negative feedback
- Fear of not being up to the task
- Fear of looking stupid, silly, (insert your own)
Other fears are more subtle. So subtle we may not recognize them for what they really are.
- Fear of success
- Fear of having to write the next novel if the first does well
- Fear of living without the safety net of a “real job”
Each of these fears are just as legitimate and potentially debilitating as the fears in the previous list. If you suffer from the fear of being successful or of writing a successful novel and having to write a second successful novel, you’re just as likely to give up on writing as you would be if you were afraid of failure or ridicule or anything else on the first list.
What’s a Writer to Do?
The first step is recognizing and acknowledging your personal terror. Look it in the eye and face it down.
It won’t be easy. Quite likely, it may take some time to overcome. You will probably have to call on the support of your writing friends, but that’s all right because they’ve probably already been there.
Or maybe they’re facing their own fearsome hurdle at the moment and you can help each other.
Next, take the first step in overcoming your hurdle. What is that? Just getting started.
Don’t wait for the fear to go away because it probably won’t. You may need to resign yourself to working in fear for a while. The true mark of courage isn’t a total lack of fear; it’s acknowledging the fear and moving forward anyway.
After that, it’s a matter of putting one foot ahead of the other. Writing the next word or page or chapter. Doing the next hard thing. Following through.
I can tell you from personal experience that this isn’t a once-done-and-over battle. You will get better at facing down whatever fear keeps you from writing, but there will also be times when it’s a daily battle. Sometimes hourly.
And even if you do overcome whatever fear is standing in your path right now, there will be another.
I guarantee it.
That’s. Just. Life.
But successfully dealing with whatever fear lies in your path is a great motivator to keep going. To try again, whether it’s a new battle or the same old foe.
The best tool–the only tool–I have for facing down personal fears is to turn it over to God. I can’t overcome fear on my own. No matter how determined I am, sooner or later, the fear comes creeping in like smoke under a door and before I know it, I’m breathing its deadly fumes again. Turning it over to a power greater than I frees me to write or do whatever task needs to be done.
Most of the time, the knowledge that it’s no longer up to me to battle fear and do whatever I need to do is all that’s needed to get me started.
Keeping me from getting started seems to be fear’s most secure stronghold, so that’s the moment when fear is best defeated.
Maybe it’s the same for you.
Don’t let the fear win.