by Milli Thornton, author of Fear of Writing
The ongoing paradox: We resist the urge to write because it’s scary but, in the end, it’s what sets us free.
—Charlotte Rains Dixon, @Wordstrumpet
In our modern society, fear doesn’t have its primitive role of fight or flight from savage creatures who want to eat you alive. To fight for its survival, fear needs to invent things to protect you from—such as fear of failure about expressing your creativity.
There’s an extremely important secret you should know that will help you outwit your fear:
When your fear is yelling the loudest that means a creative breakthrough is within your reach.
Fear wants to retain its hold over you at all costs. One of the biggest tricks is for your fear to become amplified as soon as you try to express your creative powers. Fear doesn’t want you to use your imagination for anything but imagining worst-case scenarios . . . and the fear knows that on the other side of its very own mumbo-jumbo lies the real treasure. That’s why it starts to holler louder as soon as you get close.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
If you keep going—keep writing, even though the fear is whispering cruel things—you’ll break through and reclaim another piece of your creative power.
One of the tricky things about the voice of fear is that it sounds so convincing. But that doesn’t mean the voice knows what it’s talking about. It just has tons of bully power, built up from years of free reign. It’s got you tricked. Believe me when I tell you that
the voice of fear is no kind of expert on how good your writing is.
If you listen to the fear, you’ll be getting false information. But if you keep writing—even when it’s hollering its loudest—you’ll find out what’s real.
What’s real is your creativity. All the well-worn judgments about “good” and “bad” writing are designed to make you afraid to express your creativity. No one ever started out as a brilliant, perfect writer ready to be published on the first day. The only way anyone ever becomes “good” is to write often enough to find his or her real voice.
Which will you choose? The voice of fear, that only postures at being an expert? Or the voice of your creativity, that can help you truly enjoy your life and your writing?
“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”
When you’re in the throes of fear, making the right choice can sometimes take all your strength.
But if you remember the two secrets:
then it will be a lot easier to resist the urge to stop writing just when you’re about to have a breakthrough.
“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Milli Thornton has been helping writers with their fear of writing, procrastination, perfectionism and writer’s block for the past 18 years.
Milli loves her work and she can help you too. Request a free consultation today to find out which of Milli’s support programs is right for you—online writing coach or her evergreen online writing course, first launched in 2001 (Fear of Writing Online Course).
“Obstacles are like wild animals. They are cowards but they will bluff you if they can. If they see you are afraid of them, they’re liable to spring upon you; but if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight.”
— Orison Swett Marden
“I remember how it felt to write before I thought of calling myself a writer. The primal experience was about being connected to a vast place so full of stories and wisdom and adventure we will never run out. All I did was tap into the channel and trust. Unselfconsciously.”
— Milli Thornton, p. 7, Fear of Writing: putting the fun back into writing!
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