Fear affects us all. We live in a fear-mongering time. Our governments and corporations use fear to control us. Our media pits us against each other. The rhetoric from politicians instills fear. Here in the States, both political parties play on fear. Some of the fear manipulations stand apparent, many manifest in much more subtle ways.
I’ve begun asking myself if this drumbeat of fear isn’t a reflection of our own psyches. I’ve contemplated the fact there resonates a rhythm within me which tunes in and causes me to listen. There are subconscious factors at work here. Issues from my experiences of life which cause me to recoil from situations which would become beneficial to my life if only I pursued them.
These statements stand as broad brushstrokes to the reality of fear in our lives. On my pages, I prefer to relate what I write to the topic of writing. I’ve been on writing “rolls” where productivity springs high, motivation and inspiration soar, and quality of writing feels impressive. I’ve also found valleys, places of stifled creativity, struggles to get my work out of my brain, and stymied motivation and dedication to produce.
I meet with writers from many walks of life. Many. I see, hear, observe and absorb that their struggles mimic mine. I keep wanting to draw the connecting lines. I desire one plus one to equal two. Fortunately, in the creative realm, one plus one seldom equals two. Placing logic and other confining labels on creativity truly misses the mark. Yet, I see threads woven into our struggles to create. One major commonality to stifled creativity is fear.
The most potent issue of fear with regard to writing is that the fear seldom stems solely from the first identifiable cause you attempt to place your metal finger on. (See, I even fear minor backlash for ending that last sentence with a preposition). Fear travels many levels. Fear springs from deep rooted experience. Fear is not something you lightly throw off. Then again, often the simple act of throwing off fear at least opens up avenues to creativity. You will end up dealing with that fear again most likely.
Take my fear of grammar “mistakes.” A somewhat silly fear on the surface. Please allow me to pursue some of the levels from which this fear grows. The apparent fear would be that readers would not take my writing seriously with rule-breaking writing. English teachers in my past would mark my papers in red ink and take points away from my grade. My grades were important to me. Striving for excellence and recognition were important to me. I do not wish to be embarrassed by my writing.
Already I’m following three roots which would lead me back to the life experience from which this fear springs. I would have to go through a ton of experiences which reinforced the fear in the first place. Like my fear of other peoples’ judgment. Memories of stinging criticisms throughout my life spring up. Most of these experiences have nothing to do with writing at all.
One comes to mind right away. Seventh grade. I played basketball for my school. Coaches yelled harsh criticisms for blown assignments and missed opportunities. Being 6’2″ and weighing only 150 pounds netted me catcalls of “stork” and other derogatory attacks from the stands. Pain. But the fear actually goes back further. Situations in my life where I felt mistake prone and suffered consequences. Breaking our neighbor’s window while playing army as a four-year-old. Getting lost in the mountains of Colorado at six-years=old with my four year old sister.
So what’s the point? Why trace all this crap back to incidents and experiences? Fear loves to breed in circumstance. We all possess our histories. We each deal with these experiences in wildly divergent ways. Some show no fear, yet I note once I get to know them, latent issues hold them back from progressing in their endeavors. Some are eaten up with fear and it’s not difficult to recognize. Others play a cat and mouse game with fear, ducking into the fear pool for long swims in some areas of life, while completely ignoring fear and grabbing for all the gusto of life at other times.
I suppose this is the enigmatic human condition. One of our problems is not the fear, but our lack of recognition we are even in fear to begin with. As a writer, I sense fear is unavoidable. How I react becomes the main question. Do I step up to the keyboard and produce, or do I blanch and walk away? Often when I walk away, I convince myself whatever I stroll towards is more important.
I plan to explore some writing fears in upcoming posts. Nothing like admitting your weaknesses to fuel the fear within. My hope is that other writers will identify with the writing and at least draw some strength in knowing they do not alone. I encourage you to step out of whatever fear pins you down, and soar with your creative self, inking the words your heart wishes to reveal. Make this day the one which propels you to a higher writing level, on where you write through your fear.