As writers, we’re pretty acclimated to the feeling of fear. Whether it’s a unique but very out there blog post or an unconventional novel, many times, we have ideas that scare us.
I’ve lost count how many ideas for my blog, novels, and other various things I’ve come up with over the past few years. So many cool collaborations with authors, or ideas on how to help my fellow bloggers and writers. Prime example: I’ve been wanting to write for larger publications (think Huffington Post or B&N Teen) for what seems like a million years now. I was thinking about asking some people for advice on how to actually make this happen, like, five minutes ago.
Yet, it didn’t happen. And I can point back to one main reason: fear.
But here’s the thing: if we’re afraid of doing something, it’s probably the one thing we should be doing.
If it scares you, do it.
Yeah, I said it.
I should probably give my disclaimer here, for the people who are about to start running around and waving their arms wildly, that yes, there are some scary things that you should not do. Like please, if drugs scare you, don’t do them. Let’s just stay away from that stuff in general, yes? Though, that situation is more of ‘I was taught in like the fourth grade this stuff is bad’ kind of fear.
That’s not the fear I’m talking about.
I’m talking about that fear that accompanies a crazy big idea. So many of us are sitting around, maybe scrolling through Twitter during a break or taking a nice long shower, when we’re suddenly struck by an idea. It’s crazy, it’s ambitious, but it might just work. We spend hours, days, weeks brainstorming and dreaming up potential plans of actions or outlines, and get giddy. But sometime in that process, fear creeps up behind us, taps us on the shoulder. Soon enough, instead of getting excited about our previously amazing plan, we start doubting it in the first place. It’s too hard, it takes up too much time, it requires too much skill. We couldn’t do it anyways, right? It’s too out there.
Fear can be an indicator.
That fear? It can actually be the exact sign that you need to go for whatever ideas we had.
We’re naturally wired to do what’s comfortable. We easily fall into our daily routines- wake up, eat a nice healthy breakfast (which I’m absolutely positive you all do), go to school/work, come home, watch some TV/read a book, take care of your family/do homework, go to sleep. It’s an endless loop. Maybe once in a while we go out with friends or go to the bookstore to buy ourselves a new book (clearly the latter is the better option), but those are all things that are familiar. Comfortable. They’re easy.
The new ideas simmering in our minds- those are the exact opposite of easy. They require us to push ourselves out of the neat little box of our lives, to push ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically. It requires us to improve, to take a leap of faith.
That’s scary as heck.
But how are we ever going to improve if we don’t do exactly that? If we’re not willing to push ourselves and expand our limits as a writer, then we are a.) not going to improve and b.) not even writers. If we don’t take the leap of faith, then we will stay exactly where we are. We’ll stagnate. We’ll lose sight of who we want to become in the mundane-ness of every day life.
Fear and opportunity come hand in hand.
New opportunities are lurking around every corner. I know it’s ridiculously cliche of me to say it, but it’s true. Sometimes we get so caught up in the monotony of every day life that we continue to miss opportunities as they slide by because we’re not putting ourselves out there. It’s scary to be vulnerable to failure, but with every failure, there’s an increased chance of success. We’re only building our odds for success with each failure we face.
The reality is, opportunity doesn’t come flying from the sky to land on the bedside table. We won’t magically wake up and have 7 agents waiting to hear about our crazy ambitious novel idea. We won’t get an email from the heads of newspapers asking about that really unique article idea we had. We have to overcome the fear of asking, of doing, of executing, if we want those opportunities to start crossing paths with us.
Success isn’t magic. It starts by overcoming those fears, by putting ourselves through those uncomfortable positions to build ourselves.
Fear is an opportunity. If we fear something, that means that we’re afraid of something, but that it’s going to force us to break our limits– and if we want to improve, that is exactly what we need to be doing.
Whatever it is that’s scaring you right now- whether it be approaching someone for a collaboration or mentorship, starting a new novel, investing in someone to look over your work, whatever. Do it. Your fear is only an indication that whatever is about to come is going to change you.
And if you want to be successful, whatever that means to you, then you need to embrace that fear.
Go for it.
Tell me: have you ever been afraid to do something? Are you currently afraid of doing something? Let me know what it is, and we’ll work through your fears together- I’m always here to help! Leave a comment, email me, or send me a quick Tweet/DM on Twitter.
PS: yes, I took the leap of faith and asked some people questions about writing for popular publications. I may or may not have had to close my eyes while I did it, but, well, I did it. And I’m feeling pretty dang good.
PPS: Next week I’ll be talking about some practical ways to overcome those crippling fears- so stay tuned, and let me know if you have anything you’d like to be addressed in particular.