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Fear and the Creative Process

I think fear comes in all forms. There can be a fear of judgment, fear of the page, fear of failure, and fear of success.

I fall into the last camp.

It might sound strange but I fear praise more than criticism. Being inadequate isn’t something I’m afraid of. There are authors I respect for their work and I know I’ll never reach their ranks.

That’s not why I started writing.

It was a form of expression for me, of the purest kind. A way to translate something within my thoughts onto a physical medium, the page.

But people admiring my story or any kind of praise means that they have acknowledged my work. And with the transparency that I write with, it means that they see me.

The concept of success or even an outcome for my writing feels foreign to me.

I enjoy writing stories. I’ve written many of them. Then I’ve put in a folder never to be seen again. Except maybe when I’m cleaning out my desktop or hard drive every couple of years and I have a vague memory when I see the title of the document.

Does it mean that my work shouldn’t be published or won’t be published?

I’m not sure yet.

However, I’m confident that the definition of success looks a little bit different for everyone, whether that means taking a traditional publishing route, self-publishing, or any numerical values associated with copies sold or income.

It’s an idea that’s in process.

I do have two stories that mean a lot to me. Whether I’ll even write after that, I don’t know.

I’m not afraid of dropping one book on the scene and fleeing away, especially if it’s one that’s meaningful and personal. If I wrote another book without the same resolve, it wouldn’t feel fair to publish. Either to me or any readers.

I’m also getting used to the idea of fear.

That it doesn’t have to be something that holds me back but rather pushes me closer toward my dreams. If I didn’t feel fear, would what I’m pursuing be worth it?

It’s not a blockade.

It’s a reminder that what I’m doing is important. It lets me step back for a minute and make sure my actions align with my vision.

There are still days where I don’t touch my story because I’ve built the fear in my mind. Then I start again the next day.

I try not to carry any previous thoughts or feelings with me from day to day. I treat every day as a chance to begin brand new. As is every week if my previous writing or editing feels forced. It’s not supposed to be about putting pressure on myself. It’s about letting the journey take me where I need to go.

Even toward this ambiguous version of me that completes a manuscript and publishes it. If that’s the direction I want to go. But I still have time to decide.

I had a conversation recently with a friend about growth. We discussed how we can even fear growth, though we crave it, because it brings us into an unknown space. While it’s difficult to live with fear, it’s also familiar.

How many times have you heard a variation of you are what you attract? No one tells us that we also are what we avoid. Our fear can easily control us into making decisions that aren’t for our benefit.

I don’t think the idea is to be fearless or to live with fear every single day. I think it’s about letting ourselves live. Breathe. Grow. Flourish.

It’s about the present moment and what I can accomplish right here and right now. Growth is in the distance, it’s not something that’ll exist here.

Though the fear will still be here. Sometimes.

But maybe, one day, I’ll be different.

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