Fear and Writing

It was something that a man said on Catfish: The TV Show (seriously) that brought me to a profound realization about my own life and my relationship with writing. This particular episode was a happy one, everyone was who they claimed to be and the couple has ended up happy and together. Usually someone is a secret transexual or is duping someone out of thousands of dollars. Anyway, the man in the relationship hesitated and backed out of meeting the woman for eight years, even though he had nothing to hide. When asked why he wouldn’t meet her for so long, he said something to effect of: I was so happy in our relationship and I was afraid that if I met her and it didn’t work out in person I would lose one of the most important people in my life. In other words, he was afraid that the reality would kill the dream.

This thought perfectly sums up my relationship with writing. I have, for nearly my entire life, wanted to be a writer. I have always stated this as my goal. I took many steps to make this a reality. But I have never actually thrown myself into it. I’ve never tried in a real way to become a paid writer. I have submitted very few pieces, and those were years ago. I haven’t even written very much since I graduated college (ahem, 12 years ago). 

I claim lack of time, lack of support, lack of money, lack of connections, and a myriad other reasons for my hesitance. In all honesty, what holds me back is fear. I am desperately afraid that I will try, I will write something that I am truly, truly proud of, and that I will fail. If I try and I fail, then I lose my wonderful fantasy relationship with writing. I will forfeit my ideas of seeing my book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble or on Amazon.com. I will shatter the beautiful picture in my head of me as author.

I do realize intellectually that this is not entirely true. If I get rejected I can write other things. There are other markets, other mediums, other chances. Writing something real and having it not work out is not the end of writing. Nearly all successful authors have drawers full of rejection letters, and I have started mine already. But I fear that I wouldn’t be able to overcome that rejection or that I would find out that there really and truly is no market for me. 

How do I break through that fear and put something out there? 


12 responses

  1. You could have written this about me. Just change writing to acting and submitting to auditioning. I can’t tell you how to get over it, but if you don’t give it a serious try, the regrets will get you. I know.

  2. There’s a lot of fear involved for me. The thought of beginning a project, any project, from a blog article to a “publishable piece”, fills me with dread. Once I get into it, it’s hard to stop and it flows pretty well. Once I’m done I never want to see the thing again (except in the case of a blog article, those you can go back and admire or loathe and, in either case, fix – again and again.) But I have yet to figure out how to break through that fear and put something BIG out there. For all the reasons expressed in your second paragraph.

    • I do feel it even when I write a post, but I think the ability to keep fixing and to remove it if I want to helps the fear. Plus it’s not really “real” in some way. At least you’ve gone to the next step and published things. Work on that book. If anyone should write a Civil War book, it’s you. I’ve learned so much just from reading your blog, and it made me interested when I wasn’t before.

  3. You do it because if you don’t you’ll regret you didn’t. You do it because if you don’t you’ll always live with a what if. You do it because you owe it to yourself to explore a passion and pursue a dream that is yours and only yours. You do it because if your child was in your shoes, you would encourage them to put themselves out there. Write down what you would say to your own child if they were hesitant about pursuing their dream one day, and allowing fear of the unknown or fear of failure to hold them back. Read it back to yourself and take that step!

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