- Write every day.This does not mean write a masterpiece every day. This doesmean to put words on paper. Any words. I find that when I’m up to my eyeballs in fear, tw
o tricks can help. Starting an Artist’s Way-style morning pages journal where I record a stream of consciousness is the gentle approach. If I need more of a boot-camp-style jump start, I’ll sign up for NaNoWriMo and focus on word count.
- Find something else that’s even scarier. This is a fun one. Maybe skydiving is your thing. Or sign up for a marathon. For me, public speaking does it. I find that once I am outside of my comfort zone, writing stops being the monster in the closet and transforms into a cozy friend.
- Laugh in the face of fear. Literally. Watch a silly movie, read some Calvin and Hobbes comics, hang out with a friend who makes you laugh. Eventually, you’ll crack a joke about your own writing and the fear will begin to drain away. It will also help you with Tip Number 4:
- Lighten up. If you criticize your work too harshly, don’t re-read what you have written until you have some distance. If you’re like me, you have a little voice in your head that feeds the fear. Build an argument against the voice by keeping track of the work you do accomplish.
- Join a writing group. A friendly writing group. I find that sharing my fears with other writers helps them to dissolve. (And we eat a lot of popcorn, too.) You can find like-minded writers at a local independent bookstore, through a local writer’s association, or through a writer’s community site like SheWrites.
- Switch media. I’m a writer, not a painter, so I can get the paints out and “get in the zone” for a while with no expectations. Try collage, or pastels, or something that is low-stakes for you. That is how I managed to make the image of my inner critic at the top of this post.
- Just dive right in. Think of your computer (or pencil and legal pad) as a cold mountain lake. The first instant might be a little uncomfortable, but in the end you will be refreshed and happy. For more ideas, see this inspirational post by Popcorntheblog’s own Michelle Feder.
- Remember you are not alone. Everyone is intimidated by putting words on paper. Read books about this if it keeps the fear more contained. There are lots of them. And, maybe you’ll wind up writing something in response. Maybe a blog post?
- If it gets really bad, take a break.I made myself a Fear Lovie. Yes, I have a weird little stuffed creature that I can just sit with when things get too scary. After a few minutes, I feel better. Or sillier.
(See, I shared that! If I can put that out in the world, you can do whatever it was you’re so afraid of.)
- Let yourself be afraid. Sometimes I find that the bulk of my fear is fear of being afraid. When I let go of that, and let myself feel afraid, the total fear load on my brain reduces dramatically.
What do you do to keep fear at bay?