Naming your fear is the first step to conquering it
Different cultures throughout time have taught us that naming things gives us power over them. At the recent Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference, New York Times best-selling author, Bob Mayer, spoke on the last day about fear. He started his talk with a quote from Stephen King:
“I’m convinced fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
I’ve taken Mayer’s Write It Forward online class and the first thing he does is have us name our fear. I couldn’t do it. For years, I’ve worked hard on conquering my fears and felt as if I’d pretty much conquered them all (even my extreme fear of snakes). I know all about the concept of “going fearward” and often recommend it to my clients. So when Mayer suggested I probably hadn’t been faced with my current fear yet, I thought, “Uh, huh. Right.”
But there was something wrong in my writing life. I’d been working on my next book and procrastinating terribly but not understanding why. I thought maybe my subconscious was trying to work something out with the plot. But that wasn’t it.
During Mayer’s class this weekend, I finally got it—he said something, I don’t even remember what it was exactly–but it triggered instant understanding of my current fear. I’d been procrastinating because I was afraid of making a wrong choice. THE wrong choice. You know, the one that ends your career, makes small children run screaming from you, and leads to the end of times.
Of course, there is no such wrong choice. But I was overwhelmed with all the decisions that have to be made when you start a new project. What if I make a wrong choice and the entire book turns out to be useful only as blotting paper for vampires?
My epiphany happened yesterday. Today, I wrote 2,000 new words and felt as if a weight had been lifted. Naming my fear gave me power over it. And if you don’t think you have any fears? Maybe you just haven’t been faced with them yet.
To find out more about how to tackle your fears and go from writer to successful author, check out Mr. Mayer’s book Write It Forward.
Exercise: Think of any area of your writing or creative life where you feel like you’re holding back. Write down fears that may be hindering you. Now go “fearward.” Do what you’re afraid of. Walk into your fears and you may just see them disappear.