As much as we’d rather not admit to it, fear tends to channel much of what we do or do not do. As a theatre director who works with students I’ve learned that the fear of looking silly or stupid is the primary reason they won’t shine for me with their acting. As a parent of three, I realized early on that fear of getting hurt or failing or being made fun of prevented my children from doing something they might otherwise have tried. And as a writing facilitator, I know that fear has hindered many a writer.
Writers have fears that stampede into one another: They can’t write well enough; if they can write well, no one will publish their work; if they are published, their pieces won’t be read; if their work is read, no one will like it; if it is liked and well-received, then they won’t be able to produce a second “winner”; and it goes on and on. Ultimately, writing is very vulnerable work, so the fear of rejection, in whatever form it may come, commands a writer’s attention.
While understandable, fear must be cast aside in order to be a writer. As with my acting students, your best writing won’t reveal itself in the face of fear. As with my children, your best writing might not even happen if you allow fear to rule. To conquer a writer’s fears, the fears must be challenged head-on.
Can I even write? Try it and see. What if I don’t write well? Take a writing class, join a writing group, read good books and learn. Will anyone like what I write? Send it to a friend and ask, join a critique group, connect with a literary agent. What if my piece is rejected? Send it to someone else, find another group, remind yourself that many prize winning books were rejected numerous times. What if no one publishes it? Start a blog, self-publish, enter a contest where publication is the prize.
In the end fear is only an excuse. If you have something to say and want to write and want to write well, don’t let anything hold you back. Today is the day that you choose to write.