Fear, Part 1
By Deri Pryor, Graduate Assistant, Bluegrass Writers Studio
I have it.
Honestly, looking back over my life, fear has been a bigger motive in my decision making process than anything else. Guess what? It kind of sucks as a directive tool.
There are, of course, healthy forms of fear. It keeps us from doing stupid, dangerous stuff. Like swimming in shark infested waters in chum suits. Joining dating sites. Opening a can of biscuits without proper protective equipment. Or buying canned biscuits in the first place.
However, when fear takes over our lives, even just a small facet, it paralyzes us. Things we are completely capable of doing seem too daunting, and we stop taking chances or following dreams.
This is for many writers the bane of their existence, but they are often not aware of it. They puzzle over unfinished manuscripts or over ideas that cannot even make it to paper.
“I’m stuck,” a writer may say. “I’ve got writer’s block.”
“I can’t get past this first chapter/particular scene/the outlining stage/out of bed.”
“This is all rabid dog poop. I’m going to start something else.”
Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. These types of statements play on an unending loop in my head like the worst pop star earworm until I can’t stand it anymore and take a nap with my dogs because they don’t judge my ineptitude.
All of those unfinished or unrealized manuscripts do not speak ill of you as a writer (or a person). They speak of fear. It’s not an unreasonable fear, mind you, but it has to be conquered to move forward.
Here’s the hard truth: there is nothing wrong with what you or I are writing.
Let me repeat that: There is nothing wrong with what you or I are writing.
Why? Because you wrote it and it’s your truth, your imagination, your world, your characters, your message, and you are doing what you love and that is a beautiful thing. Is it perfect? No. But neither is any of stuff that is already out there and published, even the “classics.” Yeah, I said it. You can aim for somewhere in the same vicinity of perfection in the editing process, but you can’t edit what’s not finished.
I was browsing-Facebook-and-not-writing-because-of-fear one morning when I came across a post by James Gunn, the director of last year’s surprise blockbuster movie Guardians of the Galaxy. In the post, titled “Pro Tip: FINISH WHAT YOU START,” he talks about this very thing. He talks about how he stumbled along very much not finishing things because of fear. You can read the post here, as I won’t rehash the whole thing: https://www.facebook.com/jgunn/posts/10152879874426157
Gunn took a huge gamble with GOTG and came up with a handful of aces. This was not an accident. All his practice of finishing things enabled him to see the thing through.
The key word in that last sentence is “practice.” Think about this: Everything you do in life, beyond autonomic bodily functions, took practice -- walking, talking, reading, you name it. If you know how to do it, it is because you practiced it. It’s a bit naïve to believe that somehow we will decide to be a writer and it will just happen. Talent can carry us only so far. And in the realm of writing, practice takes the form of finishing what you start.
Tune in next time when I’ll talk about the best fear repellent: developing self-confidence.
Published on September 03, 2015