Laurie Buchanan is the author of the Sean McPherson thriller series. You can find out more about her on her website, www.lauriebuchanan.com, or by clicking here, read her last post here, and buy her books here.
If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance that you’re a writer, published or not. It doesn’t matter. There’s an even higher chance that, at some point, fear has kept you from writing. Here are a few common writing-related fears:
Everyone has fears. They might include spiders, heights, confined spaces, or something else.
- Am I genuinely talented, or just a perpetual wannabe?
- If I call myself a writer, people expect me to make good on it.
- What will people (readers) think? Will they laugh? Will they lie to spare my feelings?
- What if I don’t have anything interesting to say?
- What if my academic background doesn’t have anything to do with writing?
- The publishing industry is hard to break into. There’s no way I’ll ever get published, so why bother trying?
- I have a family to take care of and a hectic job. What if I can’t keep up the pace? What if I can’t finish what I start?
- When I compare myself to my writing friends, I fall short.
Science tells us that when we experience sustained positive emotions like compassion, care, forgiveness, gratitude, and patience, our body produces dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is secreted by the adrenal glands. DHEA is a vitality hormone; it accelerates renewal and improves our health.
When we experience sustained negative emotions such as anger, bitterness, worry, or fear, our bodies produce cortisol, which contributes to sub-optimal performance, accelerates aging, and is degenerative to health. But one of these emotions—fear—can be good for us.
Fear is in the heart of the beholder. One writer’s fear may be another writer’s strength. It’s been said that the best way to eliminate an enemy is to make them your friend. It’s the same with fear; we can cultivate it as a friend.
There are many types of fear: social, emotional, and physical. Regardless of the type, fear is a great survival tool and shows us what’s important and what matters to us.
Do you experience stage fright before delivering a presentation or get tongue-tied and flustered when meeting new people? Do you become anxiety-ridden at the dentist’s office or feel panicky when stepping into a small space or onto an airplane?
Fear can be debilitating; it can cause us to freeze in our tracks (emotionally or otherwise), cutting us off at the knees.
Fear can be a leverage point (emotionally or otherwise), helping us get from Point A to Point B.
Fear is an excellent guide to opportunity. It dares us to rise to the challenge, step into courage, and confront what makes us afraid. It can be the catalyst that motivates us to action: perhaps expressing our opinion in a group setting despite the fear of being ostracized or ending a relationship that’s bankrupting our hearts.
A world without fear would be dangerous. Like any good friend, fear—and its cousin adrenaline—lets us know when to freeze, fight, or flee—run like the dickens! They call us to action. Fear provides the energy and motivation to do what needs to be done.
Each person’s situation is different:
- One person may need to practice their presentation to know it inside out.
- Another may need to learn to say “no”—and stick with it—regardless of the reception it receives.
- Others may need to take precautionary steps to avoid an unpleasant message from their physician.
One of my writing friends said, “Laurie, how can you possibly relate to what I’m going through? You have an eight-book contract for the Sean McPherson series. You’ve got it made.”
Let me be the first to say that her perception is not accurate. For me, just the thought of writing and releasing a high-quality, engaging crime thriller book each year is scary! But as I shared with her, I’ve made it a practice to set down my fears and use them like stepping stones that lead to calm.
Some of the steps I take to address my writing-related fears:
- Decide which fears concern me the most.
- Prioritize them according to validity, and determine which ones are excuses not to write.
- Write down how I can address your fears in concrete ways. For example, instead of thinking, “I plan to tell myself it’s okay to be rejected,” shift my perspective and think, “I’ll research reasons why submissions get rejected and then revise my work accordingly.”
- Write a plan of action, then keep it where I can refer to it if I feel discouraged.
Fear lets us know we’re alive. Without fear, life would be flat. There’d be no effervescence. Fear provides us with the opportunity to slay dragons. Once defeated, we get the thrill of fist-punching the air and shouting, Woohoo! as we sashay on to the next conquest.