Let's talk about fear for a minute--that heart-pounding, knee quivering, voice shaking, stomaching wrenching fear. It's a primal response that prevents us from threats. But here's the thing. It can also prevent us from reaching for things, even when the situation isn't life and death. Which means sometimes we stray away from risks, because we are so crippled by the feeling.
I get it. I’ve totally been there, this past week in fact. On Tuesday, I conquered one of my worst nightmares. I stood in front of over 100 people, without notes, slides, or a podium to hide behind and I spoke for about 15 minutes. For two months prior to the talk, I planned, wrote, memorized, practiced, and practiced some more. And on top of all that I agonized, freaked out, and quaked in fear. So much so, that I almost talked myself out of the experience numerous times.
But when it was all said and done, not only was I glad I’d tackled one of my greatest fears, but also, I was so in awe of how much I gained from the experience. I’d just proved to myself that I could do something that I never in a million years thought that I could. And even better numerous others benefited from my talk.
So what does all this have to do with writing?
How many times have we kept ourselves from writing something because we let the fear cripple us? I know I do it all the time. I tell myself I’m not qualified to write something, because I’m afraid I can’t do it justice. I don’t submit things because I’m afraid I’ll get rejected. Or even worse, I let the shear fear of writing crap keep me from putting words on the page. And guess what? I let the fear win time and time again. I never grow. I never learn. And worst of all I never give myself the opportunity to fail.
Why is that bad? Because if I don’t give myself the opportunity to fail, I never know what I’m capable of. I never reach beyond what I think is possible. And I never prove myself wrong.
This is an absolute crime.
I keep myself and my readers from an opportunity that could be life changing. And I know this because conquering the fear of public speaking and proving to myself that I could do it, was life changing. It opened doors that I never knew existed, and gave me more confidence than I ever thought possible.
So I challenge all of you, the next time that sinking feeling forms in your gut, or your breath starts to quicken, take a deep breath and own your fears before they own you. Even after all the hard work you’ll be so glad your proved you could do it. And if for some reason you fail, just remember, it’s your First Attempt In Learning.
Keep trying, and one day you too can conquer those fears. Then you’ll be looking back and wondering what all the worry was about. I know I’m doing that right now.
What are some of your writing fears, and how do you deal with them?