I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat at my computer, terrified. Terrified to open the story I’m working on. Terrified to think about what would happen if someone read what I’ve written.
Terrified to even dare to think that I had something to say.
Terror. All the time.
I used to think that this fear meant that I wasn’t a writer. It seemed like everyone else was just cranking out books, or screenplays, and loving every minute of it. But the process was not like that for me. There were days where I actively avoided going near my computer, and when I tried to sit down, I physically could not open that file.
My fear used to run me.
Until I read a book. And this book completely changed the way I looked at my fear.
The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield is a slim volume of genius. It’s about what it takes to be an artist, and the constant battle we engage in as we write.
This week, I wanted to offer you three quotes from the book to help you understand and accept your fear.
#1 “If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
#2 “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
#3 “Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.
Do it or don’t do it.
It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
Take Action! Could you understand that all writers are terrified? Could you accept that fear is an indicator that you are on the right track? That you’re tackling a worthy subject? That because you have fear, it means that you care? Could you write every day, knowing that to not write is a waste of your gifts, of the reason you’re on the planet?
Could you see your love of writing not as selfish, but as a necessary gift to the world?
Buy The War of Art. Read it. Then read it again.
Sit down next to your fear, and begin.
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