This article first appeared over at Write Anything.
Fear can be one of the main ingredients feeding writers block or the base of writing reluctance and, if left unaddressed; leads to writers paralysis and creative death. Fear has been said to stand for False Expectations Appearing Real – however – for the person in the grips of this emotion, it is difficult to logically speak to them about expectations, perceptions and reality; given the mind cannot distinguish between them.
For most writers, fear appears as a deep dark sick feeling of self doubt, those ugly voices and feelings of low self worth as they rear their very real heads, taunting and criticising.
A veteran of fear; I can offer a few insights and ways I’ve overcome it to tap into to allow the creative flow to once more burst forth.
Firstly – be precise with describing this fear
- when does it strike ?
- how does it make you feel ?
- what is the main thing going on in your self talk ?
- what is that chatter of fear saying about you, about your work, your ability?
You are a writer – aren’t you?
Then write these down and answer them as clearly as you can; without editing or thinking too deeply
For some, by simply naming the fear, takes away alot of the anguish and stress related to it.
Secondly; describe what this fear is physically and psychologically doing to you and your career. ( you may like to include spiritually if this is appropriate) and what the payoffs or benefits you have in keeping this fear or not addressing it.
- How does this fear hold me back? (physically, psychologically/ spiritually)
- How does this fear help me? How has it helped me in the past? Does it serve me right now in the situation I am facing right now?
- What would be my payoff for eliminating this fear? Is it more painful to keep this fear based belief – or to let it go and accept a new belief about the event or situation?
Its useful for acknowledge that the fear was based in self preservation – even if in a warped way. Our subconscious works in a fight or flight mode with many of these things and it must be understood that your sub conscience is only trying to protect you.
For me in particular, my fear is ego based. I am usually fearful that I sound or appear stupid, uneducated or unworthy. There is a point when I am feeling unresourceful, that I feel I can only write in a few genres and dare not wander into others. Although the “safe zone” is comfortable, it doesn’t challenge me the way I need to be pushed, in order to hone my skills as a writer. When I remove my ego and the meanings I placed upon whatever event it is that I am fearful about, and look at it in a different way; generally my fear dissolves.
Perhaps this exercises I use to identify my predominant fear may help you with one of your fears – be it in writing or in your life (which will in turn affect your writing in some way).
The future belongs to the risk takers, not the security seekers – this is especially true for writing. You can choose to write mechanically or in the safe zone, or socially acceptable things ( which is in itself fine – bills need to be paid and its easier to publish in the future if you are already an ‘old hand’) or you can choose to step out of that comfort zone and write ‘dangerously’ – things that are not your usual genre or style or subject area. Who knows, you may find your niche , you may like it and you might like to stay out there!
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