Writers are a different breed. We’re the creatures that bleed words. I recently told someone that for me, Barnes and Noble Bookstore is a dangerous place. It’s no Chicago back alley, but it is a good place to lose your money — if you’re obsessed with books, as most writers are. And when it comes to fear, there’s one thing that keeps us wordsmiths up at night: the fear of acquiring writer’s block. But this fear is not limited to writers. When you dissect the concept of writer’s block, what you find is a common fear — one I believe plagues most people: the fear of loss.
That Thing We All Fear…
Many years ago, I decided that I would pursue my dream to write professionally. I studied both fiction and nonfiction writing, learned how to query editors, and took a course that taught me the basics of building a freelance writing career. I identified my favorite genres, and began crafting pieces for practice and eventually, for sale. I applied to write for a few media companies, and found some low-paying magazines that would consider queries from unpublished authors.
Slowly, I started selling my work. I worked nights at the hospital. During the day, I split my time between the bed and the computer (sleeping and writing) — catching my Zzz’s and then crossing my T’s.
When I finally took the plunge into full-time freelance writing, I found myself tussling with fear. Staring at the ceiling at night, I’d think about all the writing tasks on my to-do list, and wonder if I had enough words in me to complete them. Everything hinged on my ability to write now, so what if I lost my words? What if I woke up one day and my brain could no longer weave them into intelligible sentences? What if…
And that’s the fear that plagues us all — writers or not. It’s the fear of losing what we hold dear. It’s the fear of facing life without that thing that moves us, makes us special, nurtures our souls, or fills us up like a holiday feast.
It’s easy to get caught up in our worries, to lose ourselves in the what ifs. Whenever I start to create these scenarios, I remind myself that my thoughts create my suffering. My unhappiness comes from my thinking. But I can’t shut off my mind.
Worrisome thoughts buzz like angry bees in my head, and the more I try to stop thinking of something upsetting, the more it surfaces. It slips into every scene like the Waldo in a cartoon picture book. So when you tell yourself to stop thinking of something, your brain hyper-focuses on the idea, which inadvertently leaves you thinking about how to evade the thought — not very productive, am I right?
Rather than trying to eliminate a thought from your head (an impossible feat), replace it with some superior thoughts:
At just the right time, I will have what I need. I will not let worry be the grim reaper in my good life.
I no longer fear losing my words. In fact, I have notebooks in every place around my home. I keep them in my car, and in every purse I carry. I’m convinced that writer’s block is nothing more than a myth. And thanks to my yoga journey, I have learned to face my fears. If you aren’t a yogi, I challenge you to try it out and see if those headstands and arm balances don’t help you discover your own badassery!
P.S Here’s the truth about fear…