face the fear & write what scares you

More often than not, we find ourselves facing something that scares us. And I don’t mean something that’s “spooky” or “gives us the chills”– I mean scares us.

Passing-out-poop-in-our-pants-regurgitate-kind-of-fear.

It can be so different for everyone, but I think there’s something to be said about that fear in writers. Writers can stop writing something because they fear what others might think, or fear the rejection, or fear the work that must go into the project. With some writers, this just gives them the spooks. But with many, it scares them.

Run-from-the-movie-theatre-fear.

I am not a person who likes to be scared. I consider myself of average courage. There are times when I imagine my Mama-Bear instincts can kick in, and if you’re on the other side of that you better watch out. But over all, I am not one of the fiercest of my kind.

However, I am fierce where it counts the most to me: I’m protective of and fight for those I love, I stand for the beliefs that are nearest and dearest to my heart, and I fight for the dreams that matter the most to me.

This is my definition of brave. This is my brave.

I know my limits, and I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to push certain limits. I don’t have to try to sit through a scary movie to prove myself. I know that if I do, I will have endless nightmares and become paranoid for who knows how long. I don’t have to do that.

I don’t have to ride a roller coaster to prove to someone that I’ve done it before and, nope, I still don’t like them. I don’t understand the point. I don’t need that sort of “rush.” I don’t have to do that.

I don’t have to stick it out with toxic relationships. I don’t have to worry about people who have brought me down time and time again because they don’t care about me, truly. I don’t have to do that.

Whether those are limits, boundaries, or both– those are only three examples.

But the fear I referred to earlier– the fear of writing something extraordinary only to see it critiqued as awful, or to “fail” with it somehow– that’s a fear I have to chase. If I didn’t, I would never have become a writer.

My first book took me almost ten years to write. And that’s the first novel I TRULY finished. Then when I sat down to work on it again, it changed completely. All those years of work basically went down the drain.

I. Was. Terrified.

The last thing I wanted to do is fail.

In fact, I’m one of those people that is scared of failing. Sometimes I don’t do things because I don’t know how and don’t want to look stupid in front of others. Yep, I’m one of those. I’m not entirely proud of it, and I’m always working on it, but it’s who I’ve always been.

Writing this book, though… I couldn’t not face it. It had to be written. If I walked away from it then, after working on it for ten years, when I was even closer to making it its best– that WOULD have been failure.

I’m not trying to call you a failure at all, dear reader. What I’m trying to say, is there is always going to be a project, a manuscript, a contest, a step in the writing/querying/editing/publishing process that scares the living daylights out of you. The only way you’re going to succeed, though, is if you push through.

Maybe you’ll “fail” in the way you fear the most. Maybe your book won’t be a success. Maybe the agent will say no. Maybe the editor will cut that favorite chapter. Maybe the publisher will reject it.

But, as Claire says in Elizabethtown:

So you failed. Alright you really failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You think I care about that? I do understand. You wanna be really great? Then have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.

Writing is all about having courage. Courage to say what you really want to say. Courage to take the time to get those words out of your system. Courage to go through editing. Courage to let others read what you’ve written. Courage to self-publish. Courage to query. Courage to be published.

Courage. Be courageous and face your fear, whatever it is, and write through it.

Write what scares you.

And I don’t mean scares you like Stephen King (unless that’s your style, of course) or scares you like whatever scary movie made you cry like a baby (is that just me?)–I mean scares you because it could be something REALLY great. It could be your beautiful fiasco.

That FEAR could end up leading you to achieve your DREAM.

So go face it.

 

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2 thoughts on “face the fear & write what scares you

  1. shaunkellett says:

    A great post. This is one of the things that has really clicked with me this year. I’ve said I wanted to be a writer for over a decade. I’ve said I want to blog, I want to put myself out there. But honestly? I was terrified. I hated putting a blog out for the world to see, worse still I hated putting out a short story. I’m still not over that fear, but it’s far more manageable. I’m learning to push through it and put my work out there; it’s the only way we can reach our dreams 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emily Herring Dunn says:

      Thanks so much, Shaun! And GOOD FOR YOU! I’m right there with you. The fear is always there, but we won’t ever achieve our dreams if we don’t acknowledge it and push through.

      Every artist deserves a medal for putting him/herself out there. I’d send you one if I could! Keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂

      Like

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