04 February 2015

How Do We Deal with Fear?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's once again time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. *insert drum roll here* This month I'm a co-host! So I'll be stalking...err...visiting lots and lots of you. As always, the IWSG is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and my fellow co-hosts this month are Gwen Gardner, Dolorah, and M. Pax!


Something that causes a great deal of insecurity (for me, at least) is fear. Fear is something that holds you back, that keeps you from achieving your goals. There are plenty of reasons to be afraid, and it isn't always easy to find ways to work through it. If you manage to erase one fear, you might just run into another one. 

I'm afraid of a lot of things. I think everyone's go-to fear is failure. We worry that all of this work we put into what we do will never amount to anything. We're afraid we'll never get an agent or a book deal, or even if we do get published, that the book will never sell. Sometimes it's tough to keep going when you're constantly worrying if it's even worth the effort. 

But that's really only the beginning of the fear spectrum. You can be afraid of something even if you want it, maybe just because it's different and scary. I'm terrified of change, despite the fact that I desperately want things in my life to change. I'm even afraid of success, because I worry that I don't have the personality to deal with all of these elaborate fantasies of what a successful life could be like. I don't think I can live up to my imaginary self. 

I worry that I'm just not capable of figuring out everything that needs to be figured out in my manuscript. And even if that happens, if I somehow get it done, I worry that it will be a complete flop. I worry that people just aren't going to get it, or they're going to take it the wrong way and be offended. It's already happened more than once and I'm not sure how I would even deal with the situation besides saying, "it's just a story." I worry that people are going to think that I assume too much, or that there's some level of hatred inside of me that really is just nonexistent. How do I make people get it?

You can see how easy it is for fear to just build up and build up. There are so many reasons for it, so it's hard to escape it completely. I don't have all of the answers yet. I think it's important to try and deal with one thing at a time--block those fears from my mind until they're actually worth worrying about, if they ever are at all. Because right now, the only thing fear is doing is holding me back. 

How do you guys deal with fear? What scares you the most when it comes to your writing? 

72 comments:

  1. Hi Sarah - right up there with you on the fear factor. It can stop you doing - well, anything can't it? I have something called an 'intention coin', it's a little disc with the words 'be brave' stamped on it - it's such a little thing, but just taking that out & looking at it can remind me that if you don't try, you never know what'll happen. In fact, you don't really need the coin, you can just scribble the words on a post-it & pin it above your desk, it's amazing how something so simple can be so helpful. All the best, Angie :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I resonate with your post. My own fear has been stopping me for years. Recently at the prompting of a dear friend I journaled in dialogue with my fear and I'm working my way through as to why I am my own worse enemy. It's helping. Try it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I feel you on this one. Fear is a huge de-motivator for me. I fear rejection so much that sometimes I don't write at all. I've learned an acronym for fear that keeps me motivated. You can either "Fear Everything And Run" or "Feel Everything And Recover." I chant the second one in my head all the time :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're right about that--we all struggle with fear. I'm lucky that my debut was well received. That gave me a great deal of confidence about my writing, but that doesn't mean I don't worry about the next book--whether it will be good enough, whether people will like it. Sometimes the pressure is actually worse because, now, I don't want to put something mediocre out there ruin my good (pen) name.

    As far as story issues pre-pub, get some good CPs and betas and trust them to help you sort that out. Seriously, it's a tremendous help and a great way to test the waters.

    Great post! Thanks for co-hosting. :)
    IWSG #143 until Alex culls the list again.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think you just touched on every fear imaginable. Yes, at its heart is a fear of failure. And we can be afraid to succeed, too, because that brings more pressure. I always go back to a book I read years ago - Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Fear is/can be paralyzing. You're already aware of that and you're working on dealing with it. You'll be okay. Have faith in that, have faith in yourself. Easier said than done sometimes, I know, but if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. My biggest fear with my writing is rejection, or letting my readers down.

    I guess what I do is close my eyes and jump. It doesn't do much for reducing fear, but taking that leap of faith forces me to act.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wasn't it Churchill who said the "only thing we have to fear is fear itself"? I think actually writing about it like you did here today and sharing with friends and other writers will help you dissect what your fear is and how to overcome it. You can do it! Thanks for co hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  9. What Jay said. Just do it and you'll be too busy to be afraid.
    Thanks for co-hosting today!

    ReplyDelete
  10. YES! I totally had a heart palpitation yesterday when the amazing Cathrina Constantine told me she had a review of my first novel up on her blog. *gulp* But it was all good. I don't think we can make strides forward unless we embrace the realization that not everyone will be a fan, and that's okay. In fact, The Hunger Games has taken it's full weight in hatred, but that doesn't make it any less amazing or thought-provoking a story. All you have to find is one fan, one reader who adores your work, and then ignore the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Don't let all that worry rule your life. Rise above it. Enjoy the journey.
    Thanks for co-hosting this month!
    Play off the Page

    ReplyDelete
  12. Some people will just never 'get it' and unfortunately that's something we have to deal with. I'm afraid of a lot of things too. The thing about fear is that it's always with you, so you have to keep it from weighing you down and use it as a motivator instead. I'm more afraid of a bleak future where I never tried anything than one where I failed when I did try.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think my greatest fear is not finishing. Although I have many projects completed, I have a half a dozen in some stage of development. Series books are great for concepts but all those characters keep shouting "Write me first!"

    ReplyDelete
  14. I completely empathize with you. Fear can chain you down, though. Just keep moving forward even if those steps are little. You're making progress. Thank you for co-hosting! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh yes. I am right there along with you, nodding along with your words. It ain't easy. Usually my husband calms my fears, helps me to step back, and shoulders a lot of my stress. Then, after a deep breath, I forge on ahead knowing I have his support. Sometimes it helps to have someone there.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh man!!! Fear is the worst feeling to bog you down. Rebuke it any way possible. Fear eats away at the brain cells like a plague. Throw that fear in the garbage and get on with it!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Fear, doubt, lack of self-confidence--they're all related and interwoven to create this heavy weight of negativity that holds us back so often. In a sense failure is one step towards success and many successful people experience failures. It happens. Building that inertia needed to propel us fast the failures is the real trick.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great post. I totally agree. Here is a quote I like about it.

    "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."
    ~Dale Carnegie (1888-1955) American writer.
    Juneta at Writer's Gambit

    ReplyDelete
  19. That last line of your post, "the only thing the fear is doing is holding me back." is completely valid. We can't give fear that kind of power. We have to 'what if' the positives. What if I was a bestseller? What if my book inspired someone? What if Chris Hemsworth played my main character in the movie adaptation. And then we go for it! Good luck and thanks for hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  20. My greatest fear is I'll give up. So, what works for me is pretty simple. When I feel myself sinking, I take a breath in, breath out, and whisper to myself, It'll be okay, it'll be okay, it'll be okay. And strangely, it always is. Best of luck, Sarah. Never give up and never surrender. Just plod onward believing everything will be okay.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Fear sucks! But if we let it get in the way, we miss out on a lot. Pushing past that fear and never giving up is the way to conquer it.

    I fear that I'll never publish my supernatural-thriller series. Although I stopped querying it, I'll never give up on it.

    Good luck to you with everything!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Fear is a constant companion. I mitigate it with 'God's will' and am pretty happy about that. But it doesn't always work.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I don't give in, or even accept, fear as a stumbling block. Often I'll watch a video of a break out artist or poet in performance. Looking at the crowd, looking at them, alone on stage, and seeing the joy in there eyes and smile as they "perform" is enough to let me know I can do it, too. I started from a small place, and since journeying forth, know that if I "fail" and return to that same place, I'll be wiser, braver, smarter and willing to try again. So, in essence, I can't fail. Thanks for co-hosting this month.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm afraid of sharing my work, and yet I have this intense need to do just that - the fear is due to my mental block regarding grammar and all the stupid errors I keep making. I love writing, telling stories, I just wish I were an English major with the talent to support my imagination!

    Wonderful post!

    ReplyDelete
  25. It's tough not knowing what we don't know.But if we didn't care enough to worry, we'd never put out a good book. So embrace those fears and keep going.

    Thanks for co-hosting this month's IWSG!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Fear is crippling indeed, I have some of those you have, but I tend to relay on good planning and preparation, it helps in making things look more realistic than the monsters our fears create.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Fear is the worst, and you hit the nail on the head. Fear of failure is typically first on my list as a writer. Thanks for co-hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  28. You're not a alone. Put blinders on and dive in. That's what I do. The skin starts to harden and, heck, you're doing what you love. What does the rest matter? That's fantastic. You can't fail.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Right now, what scares me the most is my age and that I won't complete and publish these projects. But a wise person once wrote "feel the fear and do it anyway" - I try not to let fear stop me. I hope you find your way through it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. As you already saw, I posted about similar thoughts today. This whole thing is really exciting, and terrifying, all wrapped up in one book-sized bundle. Maybe it gets easier when you have more than one book. Let's hope we get to find out!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Fear is a nasty thing. Sometimes the only way I can push through fear is to simply work myself to the bone and pretend it's not sitting there, waiting over my shoulder. Then, I often get sick from overdoing it. So, I've not found the best way. Now, I'm trying to set goals and balance fun times with my friends and family so that fear might go find someone else that's running away. It's like the bee... I'm always telling my kids to just be calm, because the bee likes to sting someone who's running more. So much easier said than done, though. Wishing you all the best, and thanks for co-hosting this month!

    My IWSG Post

    ReplyDelete
  32. Fear of failing, fear of succeeding, fear of not trying hard enough, fear of trying to hard all plague me. Fear is the source of all my insecurities. You'd think by realizing this I could get a handle on it. :) I have been more successful over the past few years at dealing with it, though. I reflect on where I've been and accept the successes that I've gained and how I worked through past disappointments and fear. That's really helped me.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Great post and I can relate too. All of the fears you mentioned follow me around, nibbling in the back of the mind even when I say "Ah, in your face!" I fear people won't get it, that I won't make much sales from the writing but most of all what I write won't ever be as great as I imagined it. The only thing I can do is beat those fears back by keep writing anyways.

    ReplyDelete
  34. A great quote hangs in my favorite coffee shop: "Worry is a misuse of imagination."

    You're right that we can't let our fears about "what if?" snowball because that will stop us from accomplishing anything.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Fear is a natural response to a threat, perceived or otherwise. I fear that my best will never be good, that no one will ever crave my words as I crave the words of others. But in the end, I continue to try to do my best and to ignore those screeching voices of fear. I suspect you do too. :)

    shahwharton.com

    ReplyDelete
  36. What a great post! Overcoming those fears is the greatest and most difficult, I think, and like you, I'm really not that very good with change.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Wow. I had to read this a few times as it is EXACTLY how I think! You dream of having a huge author signing but panic when you think about how successful you are at that point. You wonder if your finished MS is good enough after 8 years of working and editing it, but hesitate because...what if it really is? How would I, and my friends and family, respond to that success?
    Well thought out and such a real blog, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  38. We can let fear rule us, or not. When I feel like I'm hopeless, I just remember what I have done. I'm not published, but I've written books. How many other folks in my life can say that? I just keep thinking that every step forward is a positive and I just have to keep taking those steps. Just keep pushing yourself, and that which you are afraid of now, will become comfortable later.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I can totally relate to this! I think we writers push through these fears because our desire to have our work published outweighs the fear - it doesn't make it any less scary, but it makes it worth it!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Whoa did you just totally hit the nail on the head with this one. My husband tells me to listen to the acronym F.E.A.R, "False Evidence Appearing Real" and I try to. I really do. But lately anxiety attacks are becoming a hindrance. I am pushing through them because there are so many things I really want to do and I don't have time for anxiety. Plus, I want to prove to myself I really can do the things I've set out to do. That said, I must say I'm glad to know I'm not the only one feeling this way. So, thank you for the post, and for co-hosting this month, and, for offering on Alex's blog to help out with the A to Z. If you aren't already on someone's team, I'd love to invite you to join mine. If you'd like to, please email me at writeme@lisabuiecollard.com and I can give you details... Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Fear is a huge issue for me. Fear of being misinterpreted. Fear of running out of time. Fear of failure. The only way to deal with it is to face it head on.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I've pretty much gotten over the fear in my writing. Like my parents warned me, you don't know fear until you have children of your own. I reserve all that emotion for worrying about them.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Ugh, I hate when fear creeps in. Fear and self-doubt, the worst combination!

    Thank you for co-hosting this month. :)

    Elsie

    ReplyDelete
  44. I think my biggest fear is doing nothing, and that tends to outweigh all the other fears that would cause me to do nothing.
    "Fear is the mind killer."

    ReplyDelete
  45. I think all writers deal with fear and doubt. It just comes with the territory. Whether it be about rejection letters or negative reviews or failing to finish a project. But it's how we deal with fear that determines if we can move forward and make progress as authors. Thanks for the post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  46. As Joyce Meyer puts it, do it afraid. Fear is a liar that I ignore in getting through all the things I have to do.

    ReplyDelete
  47. At one point I had to face the fear, otherwise it would have complete control of me. I'm far less fearful now than I was when I first started blogging, writing, and submitting my stories. I'm glad I did, though. The disappointment of the rejections hurt sure, but I put myself out there. That was the biggest hurdle. Thanks for co-hosting this month! Eva

    ReplyDelete
  48. I think Churchill had something when he said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. It's almost self-fulfilling. We're afraid we'll fail so we do. An old (really old) song says to Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative. Easy to say, hard to do. Best wishes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Almost forgot. Thanks for hosting this month!

      Delete
  49. My biggest fear about my writing is my writing. I fear that I'll hit that point where it's easier not to write than it is to write. I have story ideas, but it's like, "eh." whenever I want to move to the next level, which is actually writing it.

    Father Nature's Corner

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thank you so much for hosting this month, Sarah! And this is a great post about fear. I especially loved this: "the only thing fear is doing is holding me back." It's so true. All we can do is acknowledge the fear, and then keep living, anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I think our fears hold us back more than anything, but most of the time those fears are unfounded.

    ReplyDelete
  52. i think every author can find an audience who loves their work - no matter what. if you've done your best and tested it and edited it, it will be great! and i'll tell you, the fears never completely go away, but we get better with every story! i still worry that i won't sell enough to make it "worth it" monetarily. it's sad that people assume you make a lot of money as an author... ah well! i will keep at it until the stories stop flowing - and i dont see that any time soon.
    sorry for rambling! kick fear in the butt!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Fear can be a good thing.
    It makes you understand whats important to you.
    Embrace it all!
    If we never try anything, we never get anything.
    Thanks for co-hosting!
    Heather

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hi Sarah, thanks for co-hosting IWSG. Fear is a good thing if it makes you work harder to be the best you can be, its bad if it manages to stop you from trying to do something. When accosted by fear, I try not to succumb to it by just concentrating on my writing.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Yes, dealing with one thing at a time is key. I can't write a good book. Heck, I can't write a good paragraph. But when I try really really hard, I can write a good sentence. If I can string 5000 good sentences together, I've got a chance for a good book. Thanks for co-hosting this month, Sarah!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Thanks for co-hosting, Sarah! It's a big job! It's hard to confront your fears and keep moving forward. But when you push through in spite of your fears, that's courage! Have a good one!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Aloha Sarah, and yeah, thanks for co-hosting (from a former co-host that still recalls THAT late night :)

    From your post, I'd say you've got your fears pretty much under control... in the sense that you know they're out there, but you can manage them :)

    GOOD LUCK with all your writing projects and get some rest Thursday :)

    ReplyDelete
  58. Ugh, fear. It's always there. Figuring out how to overcome it is tricky, but necessary. Doing things that scare us can lead to great things.

    ReplyDelete
  59. FEAR: Face Everything and Rise

    Easy advise to give, hard to take.

    ReplyDelete
  60. I'm fearless when it comes to my writing. When people don't 'get' my writing, I think 'oh, poor you' :-) It keeps me sane!! Maybe it's less fearlessness than foolishness though?

    Thanks for co-hosting. It keeps you busy, doesn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  61. Overcoming any fear is hard, but writing is one of the biggest. You put everything on the line when a book is published for all the world to read and it is very hard to cope with bad reviews and rejections, but that is life. Learn to believe, and have faith. In the end you will find it will work out and your fear was unnecessary.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Very true. At the same time, fear can also be an inspiration. Characters we write go through a range of extreme emotions, and fear is usually one of them. In the end, dealing with your own fears makes your writing more relatable :)
    Nice blog! I'm here from the A to Z team, I'm one of the co-hosts. I saw on Alex's blog that you would like to be a minion. If no one has asked you yet, I am asking if you would like to join my team :) You can contact me on Twitter (I just followed you) or at csenge att zalkacsenge.hu
    Cheers!
    Csenge

    ReplyDelete
  63. You are too young to have so many worries and fears. If you do not try then failure is a sure thing. So being afraid of failure is a false fear, what it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Trying and not succeeding is NOT failure, it is teaching tool. It teaches you what DOESN'T work and gets you closer to what DOES work. And I say LOUDLY, eliminate the word "worry" from your vocabulary.
    Substitute the word, "concerned." Eliminating the word "worry" will, believe me, ease a great of unnecessary stress. Every time you catch yourself thinking, saying, and/or writing that horrid over-used word, stop and use "concerned" instead.

    "I'm CONCERNED that I'm just not capable of figuring out everything that needs to be figured out in my manuscript." etc. etc. etc.

    Keep up the good work. If I can do it at my age, so can you!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Fear is such a good hiding place. I am so guilty of spending time there myself.

    Thanks for Co-hosting this month!

    Leanne Ross

    ReplyDelete
  65. I mostly deal with fear by being in complete denial about what could go wrong!

    ReplyDelete
  66. Fear can definitely get out of control in the form of phobias. I know I don't have the personality needed if I make it big. I'll be that recluse writer up in the mountains where people can't get into my compound because of the high barbwire, LOL. But I'm not worried, because I already know that about myself and accept it. Just be you and deal with stuff as it comes. You'll be fine!

    ReplyDelete
  67. I think that fear is a normal part of the writing process. But hopefully, our passion for storytelling will always outweigh that fear!

    ReplyDelete
  68. Fear is a big struggle for me. It's so hard, and always such an unknown out there for a writer. But I think there is a lot to be said about moving forward despite the fear and taking pride in that! You can do it!

    ReplyDelete
  69. I try to ignore fear as much as I can. It doesn't always work, but if I can't see it, then it can't see me, right? Sometimes I fear success more than failure. Failure is easy. Success is really hard.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Like you I fear almost evey aspect of writing, but I keep at hopeing the fear will go away. The thing I fear the most are my regrets. Right I regret not being able to do certain things because of external limitats and I'm fearful of letting those regets bog me down. I need to focus on what I can do and let go of the things I can't. Great post. Thanks for co-hosting.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Fear of failure... fear of success... it's a constant struggle... and a normal part of the writing journey... thank goodness we have a platform like the IWSG so that we don't have to face it alone.
    Thank you for co-hosting the IWSG this month!

    ReplyDelete