I have been thinking a great deal about fear over the past few days. Fear and how it affects your life and your writing. I think this is true for any art, but I am a writer, so that’s how I’m going to frame this.
If you are going to succeed at writing you are going to write a certain amount of crap. You will write sentences that clunk and scenes that will later embarrass you. Some of your mistakes are likely to get published, preserved forever in amber where others will be able to see your failures and point and laugh. If you are especially lucky, people will still be mocking your mistakes long after they bury you.
You cannot let the fear of that stop you. Fear will kill your hopes deader than any horrible sentence or purple paragraph or complete failure. Fear keeps you from trying, and not trying means never succeeding. You cannot win if you don’t get in the game.
It’s hard, I know. I’ve been there. I was recently described as fearless by an old friend, which is part of what got me thinking about this.* That may be how it looks from the outside, but it’s not quite true. I have been afraid many times, both in this business and in my daily life. I am not fearless.
What I am is brutally brutally stubborn. I refuse to let fear stop me from doing what I want to do. I attempt things knowing that I will fail some of the time and that it will hurt.
Physically, I fear the bruises and cuts and burns that come with attempting hard things in the real world, but I won’t let that stop me from working my body or climbing a mountain or building and welding. In writing, I fear looking like a hack or a fool or a wannabe.
I fear these things, but I will not let that stop me. I have the scars and the awful reviews to prove it. But, what I also have is things that I have built, a body that is fit, books and stories that I am proud of. I have good reviews to go along with the bad and the respect of some of my peers.
I would have none of that if I let the fear stop me from trying. If I let the fear stop me from failing. If I let the fear stop me from succeeding.
Fear is the enemy. Don’t let it be the victor too.
*Thanks Tim! I wouldn’t have written this without that post.