HOW TO USE FEAR TO FUEL YOUR WRITING
There’s this thing I do.
I think it’s weird. You’ll think so, too. Probably.
Or, maybe it’s common or good or smart, even.
Right before a storytelling or poetry performance, I get nervous. I’m off-stage, my eyes are closed, and I’m wringing my hands. My jaw feels tight and my stomach’s in knots.
So what do I do when this happens (and this always happens pre-performance)?
I channel that energy into my performance. I’ve been doing this since high school speech and debate team (yea, I was that girl). Instead of fear crippling me, I use it.
Dear Fear, I’ll see your attempt at crippling me and raise you an outstanding performance.
I’ve also been doing this with my writing. And I want to show you how to do it, too. Because when you sit to write, fear is lurking in the shadows (it’s creepy like that). It may manifest itself in excuses (I don’t know what to write about, I’m not a good writer, I won’t be popular if I write about that, I think I should check my Instagram, you know, just in case someone is having a life-threatening Insta-emergency). No matter how it manifests, it’s always there. So let’s harness that sucker!
Here are three simple steps
(simple, not necessarily easy)
Write about your fears. Fears are always the source of your best writing. This is the writing that comes from the dark corners of the mind that we try to stay away from. Dig your heels in and get (un)comfortable on something that you fear. Explore it in all its depths. I encourage you to share it publicly. If you can’t do that, use it as a warm-up.The best way to do this is to journal write. This will put you in a place that fuels deep writing from your true voice.
Here’s a litmus test for you: Are you afraid to hit publish on a particular piece? Are you afraid of what others in your industry/niche will think? Perfect! publish it quickly (before you talk yourself out of it). Maybe it’s a belief that goes against the grain of something in your industry. This is content that doesn’t come from the cesspool of what’s popular. Rather, it comes from the wellspring of who you are and what you passionately believe.
Write about something that feels embarrassing. Keep doing it until it no longer feels that way. The more you share about your failures and mistakes, the less power they have over you. And in the meantime, while you’re writing and sharing this way, you’re building a stronger connection with your audience. This is the stuff they can relate to. We may (ridiculously) strive for perfection but we relate more to imperfection.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Write something every day that scares you. And then, build the courage to share it with the world or your loved ones or whoever needs to hear it. And believe this: somebody needs to hear it. Even (especially) if it feels scary to write.
Dig deep, and use your fear. Daily.
Harness it to write from a place of depth and true feelings. You’ll find the process — and the result — to be powerful. And so will your readers.
Originally published at aliciajoy.net on May 14, 2017.