The day starts; ideas are buzzing in my head like insects, pricking at my imagination and begging to be put on paper. I throw off the covers, get out of bed, wash my face, do something to my hair, put clothes on, get my coffee, walk up the 16 stairs to my office and sit in my chair, a process that hardly ever takes me longer than 20 minutes.
Yet still by the time I touch my mouse, waking my computer from its sleeping state, something has started to take root in my mind. A single question that never ceases to whisper in the smallest place in my brain, what if my ideas aren’t good?
Boom, enter Fear. My constant companion. The never-ending emotion that wakes up with me and often follows me to bed. In the mere 20 minutes it takes me to shake the sleep off and sit down to start my writing day, fear has already implanted itself deep enough within me that I hesitate just long enough to give it power. And then I’m heading down the rabbit hole: This story isn’t good, these characters aren’t deep enough, this plot-line isn’t strong enough, this sounds like every book out there, nobody will buy this, and if they do they won’t like it, I’ll let everyone down, what am I doing, why did I ever think I could do this, I’m not good enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m delusional. This is killing me! Down and down until I’m walking away from my computer because I need space to catch my breath.
According to the great writers that have gone before me, fear never goes away. It never gets easier. It doesn’t take a vacation or day off; it never lets up, or goes easy on you. It just always is.
I’m writing a novel about fear as we speak and in doing so I’ve been searching for a way to demolish it. Surely fear can be beaten! Surely it can be ignored enough to work, or muted enough to hear the true song of my heart? Surely if I run fast enough, or hide perfectly it won’t be able to catch me? Surely I am strong enough to be fearless, to find a way to be void of it?
For a long time I told myself fear was an illusion, something my mind created that didn’t exist unless I let it. This idea gave me all the power, I could simple say “Fear, be gone, you aren’t real.” The problem was it never left. No matter how hard I wished, or prayed, or crossed my fingers, it always came back for me.
Now, I don’t claim to know everything about overcoming fear, in fact, most of what I know I’ve learned very recently, but I’ll share with you what I’m discovering on my journey.
1) Fear is very real. It isn’t an illusion, it isn’t pretend; it’s real and it’s coming for everyone. Some people close to me (*wink’s to the Blue Monkeys*) like to call fear The Resistance, and let me tell you what I know about The Resistance: it’s everywhere all the time. It doesn’t care who you are, only that it can destroy you.
It attacks your creative self, the truest part of who you are. It seeks to smother your creative genius with fear. To trick you into believing the lies it tells so well. You know the one’s: I’m not good enough, I’m not on the right path, I’m wasting my time. They’re always worded perfectly in order to get you to pause and consider that maybe fear is right.
2) The second thing I know is that every time fear gets you to buy into one of it’s crafty little lies (and I’m raising my hand high on this one, because I’m very guilty of this) and you walk away from your creative process, whatever it is, fear gets a point.
Currently fear has so many points in the game the two of us are playing that I think about walking away from the match all together. How will I ever recover from this horrendous loss? But that is exactly what fear wants me to think. That I can’t win, that my only option is to surrender to it and do something else. Something besides writing, because it’s when I go to write that I encounter the most fear.
3) If writing is where I meet fear most often, then that is exactly what I should be doing. Fear’s main goal is to stop us from being who we truly are, and it does that by building walls of terror around the things that show us who we truly are.
Let me say that again: Fear’s main goal is to stop us from being who we truly are.
It has taken me a long time to connect the dots on this one, but it really makes so much sense! Why else would we be so afraid to explore the world through our creative avenues unless doing so meant discovering the true nature of ourselves? And The Resistance (fear) wants to destroy, so it does whatever is necessary to keep us from the truth.
4) Dealing with fear is simple… just walk right into it. Are you afraid to dance for fear of what people will think: then dance in front of everyone. Are you afraid to speak your heart for fear of sounding stupid: then tell all that will listen to your story. Are you afraid to paint, or draw, or design, or play, or create for fear that you aren’t enough: then do exactly that!
Because the truth is simple, your Father is way bigger than your fear. This is where you should start singing God is Bigger Than the Boogie Man (if you don’t know this song, well then you need to come to my house for movie night). Trusting in your Father and the true calling of your soul gives you the power needed to walk into fear every time.
So do the work (shout out to Steven Pressfield and The War of Art), do what your heart is dreaming of. Don’t let fear keep collecting points until walking away from the game seems like the only option (and trust me, I have been there). Instead, trust in your Father, turn to your fears and face them head on. This gives you a point, and your points count for way more then fear’s. You win the game each time you step toward fear, not away from it.