Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Overcoming Fear

What is it you fear most? Is it darkness, or something that may lurk in the dark? Is it becoming socially ostracized?

Some folks actually fear success. But, in reality, I think they might fear failing while trying to succeed more than success itself. I've found that writers fear more than most, but have a strong sense of self-motivation and achievement.

Sometimes one must face their fears head-on and plunge through in spite of that fear, in order to overcome it.

I fear not completing writing projects. It sometimes becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as I avoid writing on a particular project, afraid I might finish it and it will turn out to be crap. This is what a writing group does for me. Other members keep my in check and I must try to have something to show every once in awhile, even if it is crap. In this sense, I'm forced to overcome my fear of non completion by simply writing through to completion.

I remember a time when I was young and was forced to face my fears. We were camping near the Skokomish river in Washington State and I had wandered down to the edge of the river. I was specifically told not to venture into the river beyond ankle level water. Of course, Ankle level water is not very deep. What kind of fun can one have with just an ankle's worth of water?

My exact age escapes my mind but I do remember I was young enough that I had not yet learned how to swim. Can you imagine where this is going? I did venture beyond the depth of my ankles and promptly slipped and fell into the strong undercurrent of the river.

I was swept down the river, bobbing up and down, probably screaming, as my father ran down the river's edge after me. I somehow managed to find a log stuck in the middle of the river and grabbed hold, my fingernails transforming into claws as I clung to the floating debris for my life.

I was finally rescued, scalded, and sent to a long time-out in front of the camp fire, still shaken from the event. After that event, I quickly learned how to swim even though fear wracked me every time I would go near a swimming pool.

I now enjoy swimming immensely and go into the pool every chance I get.

The point here is, sometimes one just has to go on despite fears in order to overcome them. I enjoy writing but the fear of not completing projects, or that my completed project will be stupid crap; sometimes keep me from completing work - kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, If I were qualified to give advice in this area, I would say one can work on overcoming fear by following a few simple rules.

1.  Admit fear. It's OK, if you're scared, say you're scared.

2.  Set a schedule and plan to work through your fear - and stick to it.

3.  Make it OK to accept less than stellar results. Even if you are, in my case, writing crap; at least you're writing - and that is what is most important.

Before you know it, you will be meeting your fears head-on and working through them without thought or reservation. What was once a feared thought or action will become natural and commonplace. Then you can move on to conquering other fears.