You may be asking, “What the hell is FIRST fear, Marcy?”
Let me tell you a little story. I had a life-changing experience recently.
One Saturday morning, I sat in a high school auditorium, listening to two attorneys discuss their world-famous case.
Tears clogged everyone’s throats as we heard the brutal details how the Klu Klux Klan’s murdered some innocent people because they hated the color of their skin. This event has all the makings of a great novel or movie: intense conflict, public outrage, and justice in the end.
I love me some redemption.
I don’t want to give away the rest because I’m superstitious. I want to write it before I hear others’ opinions.
As I tried not to bawl in public, I could picture each scene in my head.
No, I’ve never written historical fiction before, but YES, I’ve written four mainstream novels that have won several awards. I’ve also written one screenplay that finaled in the Austin Film Festival’s Pitching Contest.
So, I don’t suck.
That whole day, I was energized and hungry to start writing.
By the next morning, it was a different story…I woke up to Fear beating the X#@& out of me:
You can’t write that story. Hell, Spike Lee’s already done a documentary about it.
You weren’t even alive when it happened. You’re no expert there.
It’s best to stick with what you know.
By bedtime, I was ready to quit before I’d even begun.
Meet a rat bastard
Meet First Fear.
Fear Fear tells you from the get-go that you don’t have what it takes to write whatever is tugging at your heart (or do anything creatively that forces you from your comfort zone and into a higher plane).
New York Times best-selling author, Steven Pressfield, has a rule of thumb, “The more important a call of action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
Resistance is a fancy word for Fear.
The more we want to write…that novel…that children’s book…those poems…the more frightened we become.
Actually, it’s not that bad. Fear is part of the creative process, people.
Now, my favorite definition of normal is that it’s just a setting on the washing machine, but normal looks different on everyone.
We should also remember that the more AFRAID we are to write whatever, that means the more we love it and the more we MUST do so.
It’s for our soul’s sake.
The problem is, we get amnesia and Fear freaks us out time and time again.
Fear of failure.
Fear of success.
Fear of 1,000,001 different, terrifying outcomes that all end badly.
How to exterminate a rat
You can’t say, “Don’t be afraid.” That doesn’t work.
We’re already TERRIFIED! This new project is bigger, way beyond our talents and we’re not sure we’re good enough to do it.
In my free eBook I gave you, Write on Fire: Learn 8 Secrets to Overcome Writer’s Block and Pursue Your Dreams, I said, “Many people make the mistake of believing you have to get over your Fear FIRST, then write. Wrong. That’s bass-ackwards. Writing is what makes Fear go away.”
Easier said than done. Here’s two things I try to do when I’m starting a new project:
1. Start small.
2. Gather your posse.
1. Start small
The key to overcoming First Fear is baby steps.
Let’s say you want to start a novel.
Maybe 1,000 words a day scares you to death. Five pages everyday is a lot.
Try to write 250 words instead. That’s one page. Most everyone can write at least one page daily. Many people find they write more because they’ve taken off the pressure.
Small steps will always take us further than big, sweeping change because they’re less scary.
2. Gather your posse
The definition of posse: a group of people who have a common characteristic, occupation, or purpose.
That’s us. We are writers.
New writing projects shove us into First Fear.
If it doesn’t, you’re not writing the right stories.
Are you both thrilled and terrified?
Congratulations. You’re onto something fabulous. Fear Fear will be right behind you.
Find two or three other people who believe in you and your crazy dream.
Shut up, sit down and write. It doesn’t matter how awful it is in the beginning. You can fix that later. Just get the words onto the page.
It really is that easy.
It really is that hard.
Gather your posse, folks. There’s a rat bastard in the house.
How do you fight First Fear?
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