Writing Through Fear, Part II: What’s a writer to do?

Thank you for your GREAT responses to the middle school author whose email I shared on the topic of writing even when you are afraid.  If you’ve ever struggled with this challenge, check out some of this great wisdom from the comments…

Delilah Dawson points out that this can be even more of a challenge with a second book:

The first book is written and going out into the world; how will the second book measure up? What if I lose the momentum? Or worse– the magic? And yet when I actually sit down to write, after a few minutes, I forget about the fear and am just writing again. I used to feel it when painting murals, too– when you do well, how do you continue to measure up? And I think the answer is just that you do what you do, and when you get into the creative flow, the fear falls away.

Jo Knowles shared thoughts on "Listening to the Battle Cry" recently in this blog post.

My wise friend Cindy Potts shared her beautiful thoughts on fear and writing, too…

The fear is the point. You can not do this without the fear, and here’s why:

Right now, you are the only person who can see your story. It exists only for you — no one who isn’t inside your head can know it. We can’t see it, hear it, imagine it, know it — until you give it to us, with your words, your story.

What a tremendous responsibility. What a burden. Of course you’re scared. Think of every fairy tale you’ve ever read: the hero/heroine sets off on an epic journey because they HAVE to, there’s something they MUST do, because no one else can do it and it must be done. Along the way, they accomplish amazing things, but in any tale worth its salt, they’re also afraid. They’re afraid of the perils they face, but more than that, they’re afraid of not fulfilling that responsibility, of not doing the thing that they must do. That’s why they keep going — and that’s why you’ll keep writing.

You see, being a writer is a very heroic thing. You’ve got this story, this vision, and you would have the world know it. Of course you’re afraid – that fear is there to remind you that you’re the only person who can do this, you’re the key to the hidden country, the portal to the world beyond. You are the person who can do this and you are the person who must do this.

In time, that grows to be a wonderful thing. It will define you as a storyteller, giving you even more access and insight into your stories. Not everyone has this fear; it is a very special sort of thing. Welcome the fear and learn to make it work for you: it will be your companion all the way to greatness.

And Chris Tebbetts recommended this book, ART & FEAR by David Bayles and Ted Orland, which I haven’t read yet.

…but I’m going to order it because when Chris suggested it, several other really smart writer-folks jumped in and said, "YES! That one! Read that book; it is excellent." 

There were many more great comments, and you can read them here at the original post if you’d like more ideas on dealing with fear as we write…or just a reassurance that we’re all in this together.  Sometimes, I think, that helps most of all.

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