A Fear So Paralyzing

The other day I was whining on Twitter about how when I’ve tried to write fiction or even just write down ideas for fiction, I’ve been hit with a paralyzing fear of….something. Whatever it is that I’m afraid of, it left me unable to do my work.

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Initial whining
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More whining, just for good measure

I was just in agony so desperately wanting to write what was in my head and not being able to put it to paper. And then a Twitter friend sent me a motivational video. I was skeptical (as I am of anything motivational) but watched anyway. What did I have to lose? Well. What a kick in the pants it turned out to be.

Not all of the video resonated with me, but something that did stick out was that the speaker kept repeating, “I am not afraid of [whatever]”. He named so many of my fears. Watch the video here.

I am afraid my fiction is too saccharine. I am afraid my fiction is too sentimental or nostalgic. I worry that I use my fiction as more of a cathartic outlet rather than a discipline. I am afraid of not being taken seriously.

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How I often feel about my writing

When I was able to vocalize these fears, I realized I don’t care that much. And, almost instantly, I was able to take a new idea I’d been mulling over, change it, and put it on paper. I was able to hammer out a half a chapter of a brand new story! My fiction is mostly emotionally motivated. I do tend to take what is going on in my life, what I’m feeling or struggling through, and work it out through made up characters and situations. Some of these stories become something and some don’t. But they’re still important and they’re not just cathartic. Or, if they start that way, I do have the skills and discipline to refine them and turn them into something more.

Are my fears legitimate? Sure! People might laugh at me, trash me, write me off. Loads of people will probably never read my fiction. But are these really the worst things? No. It’s not bad to be unknown or mocked or written off. People can only see the perceptions they create. What would be devastating is leaving my talents unused because I’m afraid of how someone else will view them.

Overcoming fear is the most liberating action I’ve ever taken.

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After I sent that tweet, I made a lot of mistakes. I even linked the wrong song in a tweet that I thought would be fairly witty! And man, was I tempted to just delete that tweet. But I didn’t. Someone replied with the right song and no one cared that I made a mistake. It was also a good dose of humility and I was able to laugh at myself.

I might be the worst writer (fiction or otherwise) on this planet and at any point in history. It’s probable that no one will ever know my name. But I won’t waste my life hiding in fear. Whether I’m seen or not, I will live as fully as I can. It is about progress, not perfection.

Today I will not be afraid of being very bad at everything I do.

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