There is one common denominator in everything we do and every choice that we make. Fear. Writing is no different. The fear of success, the fear of failure, the fear of ridicule, even the fear of hard work. These fears keep most of us from reaching our full potential. Shit, they keep some of us from even starting the journey. I hope by bringing some of these problems to the surface, in this article, it will help people to better understand their own fears and overcome them in their writing or whatever other ventures they are attempting.
- Fear that Causes Inaction. This is abundant in everyday life for most people. It manifests by dragging your feet and being a procrastinator. The most common culprits are fear of the unknown, fear of hard work and fear of stepping outside of the box. For most Americans, the norm is to work a 9-5, relax when at home and watch Game of Thrones on the weekends. The idea of starting a business or coming home from work and busting your ass on a side project until bedtime is unthinkable. It doesn’t even cross most people’s minds to spend the weekend creating new products or content. This is all a form of fear and it paralyzes you from acting on things you want to do. The key is to first recognize that you are subconsciously making excuses not to act on the things you know you want. Then, force yourself to stop what you are doing and get to work no matter what. From there, inertia takes over.
- Fear of Criticism. Not even sure this one needs explaining. People don’t like to be criticized. Specifically in writing, people are afraid that others will not understand their style. Or even worse, no one will relate to it. Many “almost writers” feel that their work will not connect with readers, or the message will not connect the way it was intended. This leads to a fear that no one will care and you will wonder why you ever wrote it in the first place. I understand this as well as anyone. Aside from testing the market and finding beta readers like any good business model would do, the important thing is simply writing for you. Write what you want, how you want. If people do not connect with it, then so be it…at least you acted upon your desire.
- Fear of Success/Failure. It’s extremely common for people to be afraid of giving their all and failing. It’s the same reason people don’t try in sports or put up walls in relationships. The fear of failing is really a fear of discovering that you are a failure (which is a very different thing and an entirely different conversation). However, many people are just as fearful of success but are unaware of it. There are studies showing how people start screwing things up and having mood swings when in the process of succeeding due to the stress and fear. For the average, run of the mill person being successful means they are all of a sudden greedy and arrogant. Instead, they are comfortable in the middle. Mediocrity draws no attention. Well, that’s sad. And somewhat pathetic. I personally do not understand the concept of just being an average, overlooked, middle-of-the-pack type of man just to avoid trying in life. If that’s you…then stop it.
- Fear that Kills Creativity. All of the fears listed above and hundreds of others (I completely made that up, I have no frickin’ clue how many types of fear actually exist), combine to stifle creativity. They create writer’s block and begin to alter the way we pursue ideas. Think of it like this…if your friend asked you to brainstorm about something, you would come up with crazy, off the wall ideas because, well, why not? However, when those ideas are to be packaged and sold to the public, you start prematurely weeding out said ideas based on the perceived professionalism that you are afraid of straying from. Instead of writing what you want, you try to write what you think people want to hear. It’s almost a fear of being yourself. Well, I’m here to tell you to let it fly. Ideas can be hard enough to come up with…don’t suffocate them by letting fear take control. Write things down, get a little crazy and don’t give the SLIGHTEST thought to what people might think. You can always eliminate them later; but who knows, one of those off the wall ideas may end up becoming more and more on point as you go.
In pretty much all aspects of life, the biggest problems we face are within us. If we can become skilled at recognizing and overcoming our fears we can be unstoppable. You just have to remember that we ALL deal with it. So you can either defeat it or let it defeat you. The choice is yours.