Overcoming Fears

When I first quit working I decided the time was right to fulfil my dream of becoming a writer. I began reading articles about writing, took several online writing classes, and entered a short story competition. When November came around, I eagerly joined NaNoWriMo and started writing my novel. I got more than half way through the designated length and then stopped when I realized I had no idea what was going to happen next. When the results for the short story competition were announced and I was not one of the top three, I decided I was wasting my time and quit writing altogether.

Why did I stop? Fear. Fear that I wasn’t any good, just hopefully delusional like an X Factor contestant that is so bad they are a joke. Fear that I didn’t have anything to say. Fear that I wasn’t creative enough to write a good story. I would read a book and think, wow, I could never have come up with all the twists and turns in the plot. Better not even try.

Fear is one of those things that controls our lives and stops us from doing things. Some fears are worthwhile, such as fear of jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Fear of dying and fear of pain keep us safe, most of the time. But other fears keep us from doing things and allow other people to control us.

We are afraid of rejection so we don’t ask that someone special to join us, or apply for a new job. We are afraid of the financial implications of failing and leaving our family with no money so we don’t start a business or follow a passion. We are afraid of looking foolish and stupid so we don’t question ideas or speak out for what we believe. We are afraid of not knowing what happens when we die so we create religions with strict rules that promise that the next life will be better than this one. We are afraid of random acts of violence so we allow governments ever-increasing powers to watch what we do and control what we hear and read.

Fear of failure is a big one for most people, including me. Also fear of ridicule, which goes hand in hand with it. We need to recognize what we are really afraid of, determine if it’s a protective fear or an inhibiting fear, and then act.

Now I re-examine my writing and how I feel about it. I quit because I was afraid I wasn’t any good and was wasting my time. Did I enjoy the process? Yes, especially when a scene would just come out of nowhere and be exactly what I needed at that point in the story. I enjoyed doing the exercises for the classes and especially liked getting nice feedback (did anyone ever give nasty feedback or did they find something nice to say regardless?) I need to remember that people like George RR Martin, JK Rowling, and all the other really good writers are where they are after years of writing. I can’t expect to be at that level now any more than I could expect to paint a great masterpiece or make an significant scientific discovery.

I will be sharing my work on this site, both fiction and non-fiction pieces. Please let me know what you think. Your feedback will help me become a better writer and, hopefully, create more things you enjoy reading.