By George Angus
I spend a lot of time on Twitter. I imagine it’s because of the type of folks I follow, but I see a lot of quotes tweeted that have to do with fear. Specifically a lot of these quotes have to do with conquering fear, having courage, blah, blah, blah. They don’t mean a damned thing.
I’m not saying they’re not valid, I’m not saying they’re worthless. What I’m saying is that unless something resonates with you on a deep level, all of the wisdom in the world is worthless to you. The problem is that if you read these quotes and they mean nothing to you, the tendency is to self judge. “Why can’t I take this and apply it to my life, my writing? I truly must be a failure.” Let the self-loathing begin.
No one can pull you out of your fear-funk. Sorry, but it’s all on you. If you want to win this battle, you need to stand up and fight. You might have to fight a lot. Some folks have a battle or two with their inner fear demons and are able to lay the smackdown on them the first round. Others may have to go the full twelve rounds. If you don’t win the first round, so be it. Go to your corner, get a rubdown, spit in a bucket and come back out swinging.
These fights may be as simple as a blinking cursor on a white screen. For some, that little blinking bastard is Muhammad Ali. Others might find it to be no more threatening than a 98 pound weakling, glasses held together with medical tape. The important thing is that you understand that every writer has fought in that ring. Anyone who tells you different specializes in fiction.
Other fights are much more internal and personal. Fear is like that: Internal and Personal. I don’t know your fears. I don’t know their intensity. I know my own fears. I know they are very real to me, just as I’m sure your fears are very real for you. No one is ever able to really know how your fears live inside you. This is the very reason that quotes about fear may or may not strike a chord with you. For that matter, advice about fear may bounce right off of you. That’s okay too. Let it bounce.
With all of that said, you owe it to yourself to embark on a little journey of self discovery. Rather than throw your hands up in frustration about how no one understands (because truly, they don’t) spend a little time examining your fear. Take it out of the box and hang out with it for an evening. Buy it a beer. Treat it like a first date, if you will. Try and find out where it came from, its sign, what it wants out of life – everything you can. Woo it. Try to get it in bed. Yes, you want to be intimate with your fear. Maybe it will still be there in the morning, maybe it won’t. Either way, you’ll have a deeper understanding of it. Understanding is the first step in conquering.
Fear means something different to each person. The experience is never the same for any two people, especially any two writers. Your experience is unique. It’s also valid. For these reasons, fearisms may or may not apply to you. Accept these terms as given and you are on the path to laying your fear down for good.
George is a writer slugging out an existence in Palmer, Alaska. AKA Tumblemoose, George keeps a blog, writes for some clients and works on his novels and picture books when he can.