During a healing session years ago, the diagnosis I received was that I must begin to make all of my choices from openness and joy instead of fear. When I asked how to know when I was choosing from fear, the answer was, “It’s simple. When there is a struggle, there is fear. Look at the layers of the struggle, and you will see some form of fear: jealousy, envy, anger, not being enough, insecurity, scarcity, and more.”
This understanding applies to everything, including writing. When there is a struggle, when you feel like the internal critic has your brain on hold, look at where the fear originates. Then put that fear on sabbatical and write through it. As Susan Jeffers says in her eponymous book, “Feel the fear, then do it anyway!”
Writing is about being courageous. Talent plays a role, but it is a smaller part. Becoming a successful writer takes a willingness to let people see who you are coupled with a determination to get your message in front of people’s eyes. That can be intimidating when you are expressing your deepest thoughts and experiences.
Every one of the 250 or more clients I’ve worked with over the years has had to find their courage in the face of fears about writing. That is because when an author sits down to start, they are committing to creating a message or story for others. Doing so brings in many thoughts that will cause anxiety:
- You think about all the people who might read what you’ve written, especially family members. “What will they think of what I write?”
- You think that your writing has to be a voice of authority. “Do I have the credentials to be believed?”
- You think it has to have flair and must dazzle. “Will people be impressed by how I write?”
- You have the pressure of deadline and length to consider. “How can I possibly do what needs to be done?”
- You feel overwhelmed. “Where will I find the time?”
- Even if you find the time, there is a cost. How much money will this take, and how much income will I lose if I work on it?
With these and other pressures, it’s no wonder you have fears. And you jump in anyway. And the first paragraph sounds terrible; the next, not much better. The third starts to look a little better. The fourth actually sounds pretty good. This scenario is pretty typical of the writing process. Around that time, you have found your voice and start to be yourself.
Our society is left-brain dominated, but creativity starts in the right brain. Fears arise from the left brain. Using the process described in the previous paragraph, you are moving from the logical left-brain to the inspired right-brain. At that point, you will notice that the writing starts to flow and you will become immersed in the transformational writing process instead of fearing it.
Next exercise: Write about your greatest fear about writing something that someone else will read. Where did that fear originate? What can you do to overcome it?