So much of writing is wrestling with fear

Here are two examples of how to push through the fear with action and ideas:

– If you’re afraid you’re “lazy” and won’t do the work, you hold yourself to a schedule, deadlines, and accountability.

– If you’re a perfectionist and afraid of making a mistake, you push through the fear and write, knowing you can embrace an editing mindset. You make time to revise your work later, allowing it to change in the process. You call on experts to fact-check your work so you know it’s free of errors.

But there are fears that don’t go away through effort. They resolve over time when recognized, allowed, investigated, and nurtured (that’s Tara Brach’s RAIN meditation process).

Fears are feelings rather than ideas. The philosopher Timothy Morton said, “I’ve always thought that feelings are more important than ideas. It’s like driving your car on the street of wisdom: you don’t need to get too involved with the lamp-posts—the ideas. You don’t want to focus too much on them, otherwise you’ll be wrapped around the lamp-posts.”

Here are two ways to feel the fear and keep writing:

– Afraid you won’t measure up to some invisible bar? Define the bar and see where you’re at in relation to it. Track your progress over time. Resist the urge to “compare and despair.”

– Feeling like an imposter? Embrace the idea and then challenge it through evidence: your work, your outline, your draft. Feeling like a fraud at writing never really goes away, it just ebbs. You can reduce the feeling by demonstrating you’re not an imposter: I have a right to be here, I own this space, I am a writer because I write.

Facts are easy. Feelings are harder. Embrace that writing will always be a mixture of facts and feelings, then choose to focus on the feelings. Understanding the feelings will get you there faster; the facts can come later.

One response to “So much of writing is wrestling with fear”

  1. I love these suggestions on conquering fear when writing, mostly the one on perfectionism and imposter syndrome. I plan to apply some of the tips when working on my next project. Thanks 🙂

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