Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Six Strategies to Keep Fear From Stopping You

Photo credit:JEShoots/Pixabay 
We've been talking about fear and how it can keep us from our writing goals. If you missed the first two posts, you can find them here and here.

Of course, recognising the problem is half the battle, but it's helpful to have a few go-to strategies when you find yourself getting stuck.

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.
― Stephen King

  • See Your Fear for What it Is. As they say, feelings are not facts. In general, we tend to create very realistic worst-case scenarios in our minds, and we respond to them as if they were actual events. It can be difficult at first, but work on accepting the idea that your concerns may not be a big deal, even if they happen at all.
  • Get Started. There is a lot of power in just starting the task. As we've already seen, "getting ready to get ready" is a great way to keep busy while not writing. Pick up the pen. Open up the Word doc, and put down a sentence or three. See what happens.
  • Keep Moving. There is a also great deal of power in momentum. You are more likely to keep up any type of practice if you maintain it regularly. A friend of mine committed to a thousand days of cardio. He found a way to keep his streak going despite a demanding schedule because in his words he'd "gotten too far along to break the streak."
  • Be Willing to Let Go. Let go of the idea that it has to be perfect. Let go of the idea that the book, blog post, song, whatever, will make you rich or famous or loved or accepted. It might, but not necessarily because you wanted it to.
  • Stay Open. Ultimately, you decide if you succeed or fail. Why not set yourself up to win? Instead of letting outsiders choose your emotions, why not set up your own rules? Consider using measures of process instead of results. For example, instead of telling yourself "I'll be a writer when I get my book accepted by a major publisher," try "I'm a writer when I write. I'll keep at it until I get my story out to people who want to read it." Which rule would you rather live by?  
  •  Support others. Consider this story:
    I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realize that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.
    On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”
    And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.” And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for. – Neil Gaiman

Fear is common. Your actions and results don’t have to be.

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