“I’m afraid to write.” I hear that lament a lot. And, to be honest, I’ve felt that way myself. To be afraid is to be human. To admit you’re afraid is to be brave – and true to yourself. Facing our fears is the first step toward overcoming them. So, let’s look at some of the possible reasons for our writing fears – and their antidotes:
1. I’m Afraid I’ll Be Judged
2. I’m Afraid I’ll Be Rejected
3. I’m Afraid I’m Not Good Enough
4. I’m Afraid I’ll Be Misunderstood
5. I’m Afraid I’ll Fail
The common thread here is that all of those fears are realistic. Every writer – successful or wannabe – has been judged, rejected, isn’t as good as someone else, has been misunderstood, and has failed. Congratulations. Your fears will come true.
That leaves you with two choices:
1. Give in to your fears and let them win, or:
2. Get over your fears and get on with your writing
Let’s assume that from time to time you’ve given in to your fears and your writing has ground to a stop. Chances are, however, that you still have a strong desire – perhaps even a need – to write. Do you? Let that sense of inner urgency be the engine that propels you forward.
Yes, fear can be a crippler, but here are some suggestions on how you can overcome your writing fears:
1. Admit to yourself that you are afraid
2. Identify the fear or fears holding you back
3. Do what you can to address those fears. If, for example, you’re afraid your writing isn’t as good as good as someone whose work you admire, then figure out what they do that impresses you and try to emulate them.
4. Accept that you will fall short, but don’t let it become an excuse not to try anyway.
5. Keep trying. Don’t give up. Giving up assures failure; trying is an act of faith.
Fear is the common denominator between courage and cowardice. Cowardice is fearful inaction, but courage is fear in action. Even the soldiers who stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day were afraid. But going forward in spite of their fears became an act of bravery.
Consider writing as a metaphor for living. To write is to risk. And it’s in taking calculated risks that we – and our writing – come alive. Do it. Write! It’s only then that you’ll see your writing – and yourself — get stronger.
~John DeDakis teaches journalism at the University of Maryland – College Park. He is an author, writing coach, and former CNN Senior Copy Editor (“The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”). “Troubled Water,” John’s third novel in the Lark Chadwick mystery-suspense series, is available now at: http://amzn.to/1eQXCBC