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Monday, July 18, 2016

Dealing with Fear

If you’ve ever attempted jumping out of a plane (I have) or swimming with sharks (I haven’t) or hiking K2 (I won’t) – you likely know something about fear. For writers, fear can be our best friend or worst enemy depending on the day, planetary alignments, or phase of the moon. I won’t belabor the idea because it’s been the topic of many books: Big Magic and The War of Art being two that have helped me greatly.

But I will say this: fear has derailed more careers than lack of talent ever could. We tend to get anxious about a big idea, new direction, or unknown journey – and that’s normal.  Fear can help us avoid getting eaten by those sharks. But when it becomes the dominant driving force in your life, you’re not going to get much done. So here are a few ways I’ve found to help face the fear and keep moving forward.

1. Find your TRIBE. If you can’t find a tribe, find one person who “gets it” and start from there. You’d be surprised the impact one great CP or creative sounding board can have on your work and overall confidence.

2. Remember NO ONE is on your journey and, therefore, NO ONE but you can bring your vision to life. There is a place for everyone because everyone’s place is different. Remembering this can help you deal when jealousy or envy shows itself. Nothing is more ugly or debilitating.

3. WRITE ABOUT IT! What is more human than fear? Try to find a way to explore the doubt, frustration, and anxiety through your characters. It will add dimension and allow you to quiet the ego long enough to create something real.

4. READ. Usually this is the answer for most things. Can’t write? Read. Feeling lonely? Read. Want to get better at the craft of writing? Read. Need a break from the expectations and doubts? Read. Bottom line is good readers make good writers so grab something from your endless TBR pile and start turning some pages. You’ll get your swagger back in no time and will likely pick up a few new words, tricks, or plot ideas.

5. Last but not least: give yourself a break. It’s normal to feel as if the walls are closing in when the rejections start piling up. Look, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s been said that all emotions can be boiled down to either LOVE or FEAR. So if you’re feeling afraid, try to remember the reasons why you love writing in the first place and tell that fear to back off!

I’d love to hear some of the ways you quiet the fear demons.