Has fear ever stopped your writing – or publishing a book you want to write- or sucked the joy from your writing day?
It has for me – temporarily.
You name the book writing fear. I – and most writers and authors I know have experienced it at one time or another.
Rejection. Success. Failure. Being visible. Being invisible. Not having anything worthwhile to write. The blank page. The page filled with junk. The little voice of the inner critic that says, “Your friends and family will recognize themselves and be angry.” “No one will want to read what you write.” “Your ideas are bland, boring.” “Your ideas are too controversial.” “You’ll never make enough money.” “You’ll hurt other people.” “No publisher will accept it.” On and on.
Recognize any of those?
But fear doesn’t stop me from writing books or anything else anymore – and it doesn’t have to stop you. Because you can break the cycle of pushing writing fear away or running away from it or trying to fix it.
One spiritual author mentioned how despite all that he had worked through in his life, he hadn’t eliminated his neuroses. Now, however, they were like old friends that dropped by for tea. That’s how I see the fear of writing a book or publishing it. It’s a friend who drops by for tea from time to time.
Why? For me, fear of writing shows up as a message from the internalized status quo or ego to keep me safe. It will use any five-alarm-alert (or quiet, spine-chilling summons) it can to insure that. Here are the eight steps you can use to make friends with fear of writing a book – and write it anyway:
Step one: Accept that anxiety around writing a book or publishing it comes with the territory for most writers. Once you stop making writing angst an enemy, you will discover fears associated with writing a book have less a vice grip over your writing.
Step two: The worst thing you can do is push fear and anxiety about writing away or power your way through it. That method may work for a nano-second. But it is also a surefire way to make fears of writing and putting your book out into the world loom larger – and larger until you pay attention.
Step three: When fear shows up, invite it to sit down for its cup of hot, soothing tea. (You might have one with it.)
Step four: Ask it to tell you all about itself. What writing disaster does it want you to be afraid of? What might happen if you don’t heed its advice?
Step five: Listen to its list of reasons why you should not write or publish your writing. Write them down. The whole slew of reasons from your past or your ancestors’ past or possible future disasters of what may befall you if you write your book and publish it.
Step six: Acknowledge the writing fear. Appreciate it. Thank it for communicating with you and for wanting to protect you and keep you safe.
Step seven: Then, tell the fear you are going to concentrate on writing your book today anyway – or explore options to publish it. Tell it what you hope and need to do with your writing. What your writing dreams are. Write those down, too. Then do it.
Step eight: And if or when fear of writing a book or any other writing project shows up again someday, pour it some more tea. Have another conversation. The sooner you address it, the sooner it recedes and you can get back to your writing.
You may not be able to annihilate writing fear or persuade it to go away forever. For most of us, working with the energy of fear is part of the job of the writer, one part of the creative process. But you can write anyway. Then, you can put your book out into the world.