Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Is Fear Keeping you From Your Writing Goals?

Photo Credit: JEShoots/Pixabay

People will come up to me with questions on writing and publishing. When I ask them about their projects, they'll give me a wistful look and say that "someday" they'll get that book started, or finished, or sent out for publication.

There are a lot of reasons why: Day jobs, family, other responsibilities can all take what little personal time we have, leaving nothing for our own pursuits, including writing. I would argue, however, that if we were honest, the real issue that feeds most of our excuses is fear. The truth is that we have to fight for our time in a world that would take every second from us. If we won't set boundaries that allow us to have quiet time to create, why should anyone else?

This goes for established writers as well as for those just starting out. Consider J. K. Rowling's famous quote:

“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it.”—J. K. Rowling

The quick reaction is to say "Well it's easy for her. She wrote Harry Potter."  The important thing to remember is that once upon a time, she was an unknown who was just starting out, too. She had to wrestle with feelings of fear to stand up and follow through.

It doesn't get always get better after the first few publications, either. Fear can be the nagging voice that tells us that we've fooled people into thinking we could write, that we aren't "real artists."

“The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something and that any moment now they will discover you. It's Impostor Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.”—Neil Gaiman

This can continue even after critical acclaim and several publications:

“I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”—Maya Angelou

So if that deep-down nagging feeling is keeping you away from telling your story, not only are you not alone, you're in with some excellent company. I'll be discussing the sources of our blockages and what we can do about them, but in the meantime, what are your fears? What are they keeping you from?

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