Dealing With Fear

I think it’s rather common for creatives to have fears regarding various elements of their path. Be it themselves, the work they produce, what happens to it after, and the list goes on. And everything on the list is a new reason to be terrified. To go back into the hole from which you came and never leave it again. But this isn’t the answer, of course. I don’t have to tell you it isn’t the answer, you already knew that. You already know most of these things. But that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Everyone has different fears about writing. The most common of these being what if what I’m writing is crap? There’s a statistical likelihood that’s true, of course, but the reality of it is that art is too subjective to ever assume that what you’re writing is shit. Stephen King thought Carrie was shit, for Christ’s sake. The lesson here being to get yourself a wise and wonderful Tabitha. But in lieu of that, stop being so hard on yourself. Keep writing on the project even if you think it’s crap. Because you inevitably will while you’re writing it. Let it rest before you decide it’s shit. Stephen King suggests six weeks. Sometimes I feel as if I need a little more. The more personal the project felt to write, the longer you ought to wait. But that doesn’t mean it’s shit. 

To delve a bit deeper, the natural progression of things is, of course, what if I’m just a crap writer. While there is an element of talent that can’t be taught and an instinct that’s somewhat innate, that’s only half of the battle. The real work happens in the trenches. You learn by pushing through projects. You learn by actively writing, rather than just phoning it in. I learned that the hard way, and have something like half a dozen manuscripts that’ll likely never be publishable for that reason. That doesn’t mean I’m a crap writer, that means those were crap manuscripts. There’s a difference. Bad writers do write bad manuscripts. But so do great writers from time to time. So why should that exclude us mere mortals in the middle?

Following a habit I’ve broken, another fear has arisen. What if I was a better writer when I was high? Plenty of musicians seem to have fallen into this trap. On the surface it seems as if the drugs were the sources o their creative genius. But that isn’t true. It’s a very shallow interpretation of what genius is. Genius is nothing but potential. The potential to be great or to do great things. To make great art. To borrow a phrase from INXS, we all have wings but some of us don’t know why. The drugs don’t make you a genius. Nothing makes you a genius. You either are or aren’t. All drugs do is take away the inhibitions. The self-doubt. The fears. You know what else does that? You do. Have a little self-confidence.

What if I run out of ideas? This isn’t really an issue for me at this point, but it’s a legitimate concern for someday. Whenever the fuck that is. I have more stockpiled than I’ll ever write. But still. What if it isn’t enough? What if I suddenly begin fast drafting as if my life depends on it and I actually do run out. Oh, to be so lucky. That would mean I’m actually getting shit done. Which sounds rather nice, doesn’t it? Finishing things. God, I should be working on short stories now. Anyway. Running out of ideas is a myth, really. Feeling uninspired is not. So seek inspiration wherever you can find it. Whenever you can find it. Keep your eyes open to it.

What if I have so many ideas that I’ll never be able to give them all the love that they deserve. Of course some are better than others, but they’re all my babies. I can’t pick a favorite. I don’t want to have to. This fear is kind of easy, in a sense. And very hard in another. Theoretically it’s just a matter of sitting down and cranking out work whether I want to or not. Only writing them when I’m moved to do so. But that’s also why it’s hard. THere’s no easy answer. Sometimes you’ll feel moved to write them and others you won’t. That’s just the case. Sorry I don’t have a better answer for this. Becuase it’s just work. Whether you want it or not, it’s work.

What about you? Any particular fears in writing or otherwise that I didn’t cover? How do you deal with them? And yes. It’s okay to say clowns. Creepy fuckers.


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