Thursday, May 27, 2010

INSPIRATION | Fighting Irrational Fear

As a writer, one of the recurring fears I face is: What if I sit down to write and nothing comes forth?

Sounds ridiculous, right? A small thing. But if you’re a writer, you live and breathe words. I don’t know if it’s mental, chemical or what, but you need to birth the written word. If you don’t write, you shrivel up inside, much like a slow death. The writer within is part of your identity—not just how others see you, but how you see yourself.

Because I had a childhood habit of quitting long-term writing projects—as I called it, “putting them on the shelf” for later—today my fear has morphed into: “Will I be able to complete another novel?” And as I sit down to write each day, another fear nags: “What if I sit down to write and I can’t gain traction for the first 30 minutes?”

As I wrote From The Dead (and also a prior, unpublished novel), I dealt with the what-if-nothing-comes fear almost every night. The last thing I wanted to do was invest two hours, complete two weak paragraphs, and feel like a failure in my area of calling. But each night, I decided to turn on the laptop, open the outline, and take another step forward with the story.

In time I realized, despite the continual struggle, the first-draft pages continued to pile up. And as I read through them, I found myself satisfied with their quality.

As long as I showed up and put my fingers to the keyboard, the words seemed to flow.

The fear, although real, turned out to be irrational. An empty threat.

I’ve heard it said that showing up is half the battle. I believe that.

I’ve also heard it said, “If you’re afraid, then just do it afraid.”

Are you a writer? Are you something else? Fight the fear. Keep showing up. You’re halfway there.

Hope this helps. Never give up!

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