I write a lot about fear. I’m not ashamed to admit that I spend a lot of time trying to climb over, jump on top of and trying to down right annihilate my fears. I had a dream the other night that I was on a subway in Hong Kong (does Hong Kong even have subways?) I was looking for sushi. And I was alone. Normally, I’d wake up from a dream like that feeling anxious with palpatations and sweaty palms. Because of my low vision I hate being in foreign places. And I hate the slightest smell of raw, fishy creatures.
But this time, I woke up smiling, thinking “maybe this means I’m going to Hong Kong one day”. Okay, so maybe not Hong Kong. Maybe this means I’ll get that writing workshop in Fort. Lauderdale, and I’ll have the chance to go alone. Or maybe dreaming about fish means somebody I know is pregnant. I don’t know.
What I do know, is that as writers, we have to constantly be looking for ways to use our fears as tools to sharpen us for success. Because we are afraid of almost everything (sharing our work, being criticized, rejected, or considered a failure) we’ve got to use fear as the fuel that gets us to the other side.
Here are three things you can do right now to turn your fear into fuel:
1. Think about three things you most fear (ie. getting a rejection letter, getting a bad review or not ever selling books), then do something in direct response to that fear.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right? Conquer your fear in bites. Send out a query, just to get the rejection letter and get it over with. (Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and not get rejected. Maybe not.)
2. Pretend there is no one watching.
Fear is a figment of our imagination. We tend to believe that there is a mysterious group of bystanders watching our every move. Sometimes we are afraid to try things because we think “they” are watching. If you’re a writer, you’ve got to write like no one will ever read a single word you write (let’s hope that doesn’t really happen.) There are no critics. No naysayers. Just you and your words. And watch that fear of not being good enough slip away.
3. Convince the Universe that fear is a liar.
Make your actions suggest your fears are irrational. If you listen to the whispers your fear gives you, it wins. By telling fear to shut the heck up, and pushing it out of the way, you give fear less and less power until it puts its tail between its legs and goes home. If I go to that strange place and no one sneaks up and murders me, lucky me. But if I never leave the house in anticipation of something bad happening to me I lose. Big time.
Think about what fears you want to silence. And the next time fear tries to whisper in your ear, tell it to shut the heck up.