How often have you let fear stop you from doing something you wanted to do? I’m not talking about phobias- of heights, of snakes, etc. I’m talking about the littler fears that are really much larger.
In my case, it’s fear of sounding dumb, or worse, sounding like a know it all. I’m quite awkward in social situations, and I get nervous and trip over my tongue when I try to make friends. I know I’m not dumb, far from it. I just tend to sound that way because I get nervous and words get jumbled. Other times, I’ve pushed myself to talk, and get accused of being a know it all! It’s just that I’m more comfortable, being pedantic and talking about trivia, facts and figures, than I am talking about personal stuff.
I’ve missed out on a lot of experiences from both respects. On one hand, I really am an introvert and really do prefer to stay home with my books, my animals, and my laptop. On the other hand, I have to wonder if I’ve allowed fear to hold me back in some ways.
As I thought about this (since I often write blog posts in parts, over a period of hours or days), I asked, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” At first, the answer was, “nothing.” I feel pretty content except for always running out of time to do what I want, namely, write. Even when I do write things other than blog posts, I tend to get distracted, allow it to fall low on my priority list. In other words, I seem to be sabotaging myself.
I had a huge revelation in the shower today. I wrote my last novel before I thought about getting published. For those of you who already know this story, I apologize. Seven years ago (yes, seven), I wrote a novel. It was my third? Fourth? (I didn’t say they were good). This one was different. It was actually pretty good. I wrote it over a period of one magical summer. The words just flowed out. Yes, it needed a ton of polishing, but it had good bones.
After I finished it, my husband asked a seemingly innocent question, “You write all this stuff… why don’t you ever try to get it published?”
The question blew me away because it had just never occurred to me before. So, I started doing research. I contacted editors and agents. I went to writer’s conferences, read everything I could online, and subscribed to magazines.
And I haven’t been able to finish a novel since then.
I’ve started several, several I know, as a reader, have the potential to be better than the one that started me on this journey. I’ve edited, polished, sweated, cursed, and rewritten the novel that put me on this path in the first place. But I haven’t gotten any closer to getting it published than I was seven years ago.
Is it fear that’s stopping me? What if it isn’t my lack of organization, lack of time, lack of discipline? What if it’s just plain old fear? Puts it in a different light, doesn’t it?
This being Friday, this is going to double as a writing prompt, and really, I think it’s a perfect writing prompt. Whether you’re using this for journaling or fiction, ask yourself, or your character, this question: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? What chances would you take if you (or your character) only had a few months left to live? What would you (or your character) do differently? What would be important in life?
oh my gosh.. without fear I would be unstoppable..
“There’s nothing to fear but fear itself” <~~~ so true.
Great post, Doree.
For me, it’s more a question of being conservative and responsible, rather than avoiding being afraid. Maybe I’m splitting hairs?
What a thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing.
Good point. I see nothing wrong with being conservative. I think that at times, people let fear stop them from doing what they want. Many conservative people are perfectly happy, and I believe that being happy is the point of life.
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I started novel writing five years ago and never gave up on my first book. I must have submitted to over one hundred agents and publishers. In the interim, my writing improved and I polished the material while I wrote seven more novels. Now, the first has been accepted by a publisher. Never give up. If your work is good and contains an original idea, it WILL be published.
Thanks! I’m trying!
This post reminds me of a great quote by Addicted2Success.com’s Joel Brown: “If we doubted our fears instead of doubting our dreams, imagine how much in life we’d accomplish.” So often, fear is the underlying cause for our procrastination, our quitting, our failures. It’s not that we lack the intention, drive, or energy to accomplish something – it’s that we allow fear to consume us. And we create that fear. If we can create it, then we must also be able to convert that fear into courage. As with anything, in practice, it’s not as simple as it sounds, but it’s not impossible either. Great post! Without your confidence to write it and without you combatting your fears, it wouldn’t be here to read and inspire us all. Take care and keep up the great work!
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