Fear is part of our lives in many ways. Often, lately, the media tries to heighten the general level of fear in the population by how it reports certain events. But, that isn’t what this post is about.
We fear heights. We fear spiders. We fear needles. We fear fuzzy things. Some of us are afraid to leave a house. There is a book-full of words to describe all the specific fears. You’ve heard some of them. Agoraphobia. Arachnophobia. Acrophobia. And the list goes on.
Writers are often governed by fear, as well. We fear the impact of our words, our topic, our approach to a scene. We fear how others will react, judge, criticize. A psychoanalyst would probably tell us that these fears are the root cause of writer’s block. We get so crossed up around our fears and what we want to write that we become locked in place.
With all this fear floating around, how does anyone get any writing done?
You set it aside. The key is to get that first draft done. Just write it with abandon, full speed ahead. “Damn the torpedoes. Four bells, Captain Drayton.” Toss fear aside. Drop it down a deep, deep hole and cover it over. Whatever it takes to get you past the self-doubt, anxiety, trepidation. Gird your loins and join the battle.
Love that “gird your loins” line. But that is another story.
Some fears can be healthy. They help keep you from making stupid mistakes that risk your life and limb–like staying safely behind the rail on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Fear can also handicap you to the point of ineffectiveness–like when you can’t function because you’re afraid too many things. It can impact the scope, quality, and creativity in your writing.
The best way I’ve found to deal with fears is to identify them, figure out the source, and then put them away. Those fears you need, just put them aside so you can gather them back later. Those fears you don’t need, toss them down that deep pit and bury them. Similar to dealing with anger, it helps when you know why you feel things. Once you know why, you can set it aside and get back to work.