I figure since I’ve scheduled my A to Z Challenge posts, I thought I’d talk about something that’s been nagging at me lately. Morgan Dragonwillow, one of the StoryDam administrators (I think), posed a very interesting question on last night’s StoryDam chat: are you bold? I answered, “no.” I said I was too entrenched in my comfort zone, but I wanted to break out of it. She offered some very good advice. She recommended a book about finding your voice. Then, she proposed I answered this question: “What am I afraid of?” She proposed I write this question and answer it over and over. So this morning, I did just that. And I want to share my answers. There is no particular order as it relates to the writing process.
So, what am I afraid of?
- I’m afraid of not being good enough to write. This is a lifelong fear of mine. Ever since going for my Creative Writing degree, I heard this voice saying I have no business writing. It heightened after joining Twitter, reading profiles of fellow writers who had works set to be published. And here I am, calling myself a writer, but have nothing to show for it.
- I’m afraid of writing a novel. I made a goal this year—as I have every year—to write a novel. And every year, I fail to meet that goal. Various reasons why. One, I fear I don’t have an idea worthy of writing a novel. Two, the idea comes and goes and I don’t record it. Three, I don’t have a plan for writing said novel. All those things keep me from even starting a novel.
- I’m afraid of failure. The writing business is a gamble. There’s so much uncertainty. So many people submit their manuscripts to agents and editors, hoping that their work will be the next best seller. I fear my work will be shredded if I even submit something to a beta reader, saying that I have no business writing. On the opposite end…
- I’m afraid of success. There might be the slim chance that my work will see the light of day in a bookstore and that it will sell. So, the question becomes, “What do I do next?” I struggle enough as it is coming up with ideas for one novel. How will I create another? And whose to say that it will be as successful?
- I’m afraid to expand my horizons. Because I’ve read literary/mainstream fiction all my life, that is all I know. I’m so enthralled in that genre that I am afraid to try something different. Part of that is because I haven’t read outside my genre, so my creative muscles are not as strong. I feel like trying to write outside my comfort zone will mean being subject to more ridicule by those who have “mastered” the genre.
So, that’s just a mere sample of fears in a fifteen minute journaling session. I’m sure others will come to me. But I think the key to conquering those fears is to acknowledge their existence, embrace them, and then push forward. It’s not easy, but writing never is. Every day that we write, we expose ourselves to the world. To family and friends. To beta readers and critique partners. To agents and editors. To write is to be vulnerable. That’s a reality I have to accept. But in those moments of vulnerability, there is a joy that can’t be matched. A joy that comes from creating something magnificent, even if no one sees it. That is what keeps me writing, in spite of fear. It’s what will help to grow as a writer, learning to expand my horizons. It’s what will help overcome my fears of success and failure. It’s what will silence the inner critic.
The thought of doing something you enjoy can counteract any fear I may have. I need to believe that, just as so many others have.
What about you? What are you afraid of? What do you tell yourself to counter your fears?