Lately I’ve been been thinking a lot about fear. The effect of fear on writing, on any creative output for that matter, can be a powerful one. Whether that effect is positive is largely down to how it affects us and how we choose to deal with it. Will it drive us forward or will it stop us in our tracks? It’s been on my mind because I’m battling with the edit (call that a rewrite) of my first novel, a task which is actually fairly straightforward. And then there’s this blog. What started out as weekly posts became every other week, then every third and, well, it’s been over a month since the last one.
Why are these two projects in particular, that are so very, very important to me, so difficult to complete. It’s not that I don’t turn up. I’m big on showing up. Full of intention. Yet quite often I’ll sit at my computer and, whether it’s rewriting sections of this novel I know so well, that is so close to my heart, or writing a comparatively simple blogpost, ie a translation of the thoughts in my head, I am paralysed. Frozen. Unable to string a sentence together. It’s not that the ideas aren’t there. It isn’t that I don’t know what I want to write. I do. Believe me, the stuff in my head reads like fucking Pulitzer Prize material (ahem, nervous lol). But for some reason, the thoughts, the words, the brain and, crucially, the typing fingers, will not play ball. And recently, I’ve begun to wonder whether it’s more to do with fear than anything else.
I’m currently reading The Artist’s Way. I talk about this a lot on Instagram. It’s a 12-week programme to help people recover their creative selves and unblock creative, um, blockages. I’m on week 9 and, given my recent thought process, was astonished to see that this week’s theme is, guess what? Yes! Fear.
No way? Way.
(In Artist’s Way terms, this is deemed an example of synchronicity and as such I’ll need to jot it down in my workbook.)
Here’s what the author, Julia Cameron, has to say about fear:
Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and success. The fear of beginning at all.
She also mentions that frequently, fear stems from a fear of abandonment, of not being loved enough, or, worse, knowing that love is conditional on certain behaviours and outcomes. Ooh, let’s leave that there. This isn’t Freud. But without venturing further into the land of psychobabble, I bet a few of you out there are nodding to yourselves.
All of this perfectly sums up everything I’ve been feeling about my book and this blog, my two beautiful babies that I’ve created and nurtured and dreamt about and loved. It goes back to what I wrote a few months ago about rejection, It’s because they matter. They matter a great deal. And the more something matters, the greater the fear factor. The fear of being judged. What if what I write is no good? What if everyone hates it? What if it IS good? What if it does really well? What if it becomes successful? What if it doesn’t? What if it flops?
All of this contributes to that inexplicable fear of putting words on the page. I can’t always explain it, but it’s there and I’m sure I can’t possibly be the only one to feel it.
But is there an answer?
Search me, I just work here. Some would say, get over yourself and push through. Ultimately, of course, that’s what you have to do. Easier said than done though. Julia Cameron, however, says:
There is only one cure for fear. That cure is love. Stop yelling at yourself. Be nice. Call fear by its right name.
So, the message to all writers and artists and other fearful creative bods out there is this: the fear is real. You’re not alone. We’re in this together and we all just want to produce our best work. Be kind to yourselves and to each other. Support, don’t judge. Spread the love, people.
On the same note, I read a lovely post on Instagram today by @societydriven_lunatic who writes:
This fear pushes us over the edge and makes us try harder to thrive, this fear is what makes us realise we’re alive.
Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. If you’ve got any comments or would like to share your own experiences, please get in touch. In the meantime, I’m on Instagram at @theterrifiedwriter