My Tips for Conquering Fear

2 Dec

      “Crap, Janey,” Lilith huffed as she slumped into the sofa next to her friend, “You remember those entry jobs I’d told you I was considering?” Janey marked her place in the book she was reading and lay it in her lap.
      “Yeah, I remember. You were supposed to meet a rep and sign a contract today, right?” Lilith nodded with a grunt.
      “I was, but I’m not. The job seemed easy enough to do in the YouTube vids, and the articles and blogs I’ve read made it sound like sex-on-a-stick; but I don’t think it’s for me.” Lilith wrinkled her nose at Janey’s look. “Oh, come on, Janey, don’t look like that. I know I seem to say that a lot, but I’m death’s kind of serious. Firstly, I don’t have experience, I’m not leadership material and it takes me a while to learn tasks. Then, I don’t know how I’m going to keep up with physical aspect of it. It’s a demanding job. Oh, and the competition in that line of work…” Janey shook her head as she patted Lilith’s arm.
      “Really, it won’t be all that bad. It’s something other people do, and I’m sure most of them didn’t have experience either. You’re just psyching yourself out about it. Thinking too much. You’re far more capable than you think. I know you can do it, you just need to believe it yourself.” Lilith gave a wry smile as she sighed and slumped even deeper into the cushions.
      “Maybe, but I don’t think I can be a bear grappler. I just don’t see myself being very successful at it.”

Of late, I have been working double time to face an adversary I’ve been allowing to stand in my writer-ly path for years. Fear. Fear of failing, fear of making mistakes, fear of not being good enough and not being liked. The result was failed project after failed project after failed project. The leftover results eventually pile up against us and compost into serious doubts that nourish more fear—weeds that strangle us as budding writers. It’s a vicious cycle that, like a New Year’s Resolution, seems to show up on our lists over and over every year. But how do we end it and put ourselves out there?

There’s the old byword about fear that we’re all undoubtedly familiar with, but being told to face our fears doesn’t make them any less like bear grappling. I would dare say that facing fear isn’t even the issue. If the bear were caged and I were safely out of reach, then I wouldn’t have any problems whatsoever zoo-keeping the thing. In fact, I’d be thrilled to put in some overtime every once in a while. A charitable service to make myself feel better about how brave I am. Yes, we have no problem with the bear itself. It’s the consequences that scare us; the unknowns and the “what if’s” that paralyze and rationalize that liquid feeling down our legs. We’re not afraid of being afraid, we’re afraid of being torn to pieces.

However, fighting Fear is a battle, and I’ve found it can be overcome more easily by doing these three necessary steps:
1) Gather weapons. Every good warrior, and novice spectator, knows that a match won’t be much without a way to fight back. Even if all the hero has are their hands and their wits, they have to go in with something. And the same goes for writing. Wanting to write isn’t enough. We need to arm ourselves, and the best way to do that is to research and to practice. We must research what we’re facing, how others have dealt with it, and gather a general knowledge of the weapon being handled. We won’t be able to plan for everything, but, for an example, not knowing what’s expected in the genre you’ve chosen to write isn’t setting up for creativity.  That’s failure waiting to happen, since you don’t know what’s cliché and what isn’t. And we can’t make the mistake of overloading ourselves with burdens either, or we’ll be too heavy to move. It’s best to gather the basics of what needs to be known and a few remedies for the most common errors made. That’s a good place to start. Then we practice fine-tuning our weapon skills. Without practice, we’ll be left to charge in swinging our blades blindly until it’s knocked from our hands and we’re eaten. This is fear’s favorite kind of mistake, because he’s experienced at what he does.

2) Put on your armor. It’s a hard thing to muster the confidence and bravado we need to step into the ring, but it is essential. And I’ve discovered that it’s not enough to have friends and family supporting us. Not to say that isn’t great or that it isn’t a major help. However, if we don’t believe their words ourselves and can wrap ourselves in our own armor, every positive opinion in the world isn’t going to move us. It hasn’t for me, and it wasn’t going to. There had to come a point where I believed I could do it too, even if I could only muster a hair’s width of faith. And to get there, I had to realize one thing: I am going to mess up. That’s right, it’s going to happen to me.  Is now, actually.  I should have written a handful of posts first, and THEN created my blog. Yet, as you can see, the world hasn’t ended, I didn’t spontaneously combust and the earth didn’t swallow me up to spare itself of my presence. I’m just picking up, dusting off, and continuing to fight, which I’m rather surprised about.  This is so much better than zoo-keeping.

3) Step into the ring. Yes, we’ll have to get in there. We’ll have to sit down and write, edit it, repeat several times, and then submit. That’s the best we can do. I’ve started blogging, yet I keep in the back of my mind a knowledge that it’s possible this won’t work out like I hope, and that it will fail miserably—even despite my efforts. But the only things I’ll regret in 2032 are my age and all the other things I didn’t have the courage to try. Presently, I find I only regret not going at this sooner. But I don’t beat myself up about it, that’s what fear is trying to do (and in this economy, we should let him have his job). Anyway, I’ve made my first step, and the best thing about making first steps is that they only have to be made once. After that, it’s just us and the bears. And, with careful preparation, that doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

 
…If you like this post or have tips of your own, feel welcome to leave a comment!

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/2696644728/”>Tambako the Jaguar</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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2 Responses to “My Tips for Conquering Fear”

  1. Kesta December 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM #

    Absolutely love this!

    • Angie Fayre December 10, 2012 at 12:07 PM #

      Thanks so much for the wonderful comment!

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bottledworder

easy reading is damn hard writing

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