The dangers and rewards of fear.

Girl Sitting On Ruins (c) Belovodchenko Anton

“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”

Motivation is important. And not just for characters. A thousand things can motivate you and a thousand things can tear you down. Sometimes, the same thing can do both. Fear is one of those things.

If you’ve ever read a list of phobias, you know you can be afraid of anything and everything. Some of it may make sense to an outsider, a lot of it doesn’t. Either way, it’s all in their head, but that doesn’t make it any less real to the person experiencing that fear.

Fear can be debilitating or it can push you to be better, stronger, braver than you ever thought possible. It all depends on whether you let it motivate you or cripple you. The bonus/bright side/silver lining is that you’re not alone trying to find the right side of that line. Everyone deals with it. Especially authors.

One of my editresses recently posted about fear. On her blog she talks about the intense process writing book one in her series was and how she now fears she’ll have to go through that same process every time she sits down to craft a new story. Danielle said,

As you know, I wrote Follow Me Through Darkness eight times before I got it right. And while it’s awesome that I kept at it, it sure did a number on me. I don’t think I realized that until this week. Now, I have this crippling of fear of writing ALL my books eight times. And well, when you’re working on the sequel to the book that caused all the fear, it can be pretty daunting.

No. Not daunting, terrifying. I’m terrified.

Not of the book (though there are missing pieces and I’m working with a MC who is NOT forthcoming at all) but because I don’t want to fail. Guys, I don’t want to re-write this book eight times. That worry is almost debilitating, and with FMTD2, it made me not know how to start and to question everything from my characters to my plot to myself.

So how do you do it? How do you trample fear down into something manageable, something motivating? There’s no right answer to that question, but Jody Hedlund talks about clinging to hope:

I share all of my insecurities for a couple of reasons.
One, I want to show that nobody always has it all together all the time.
Insecurities happen no matter where we’re at in our publication journeys. We all ride the waves of doubt.
Two, I want to encourage us not to let the waves of insecurities drown us. When we feel like we’re sinking, we need to keep paddling forward anyway. The difference between those who make it and those who don’t is the ability to persevere. Some give up too soon. Those who keep writing and growing are bound to get where they want to go eventually.
I try to cling to hope and remember these things:

Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do. ~H Jackson Brown Jr.

Never, never, never give up. ~Winston Churchill

Believe you can, and you’re halfway there. ~Theodore Roosevelt

When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on. ~Thomas Jefferson

A good laugh and a long sleep are the two of the best cures for anything. ~Irish Proverb

A little fear is a good thing. It nibbles away at ego and keeps us from thinking we can do no wrong. Too much fear devours self-confidence and starts making us believe we can’t do anything right. Use fear to keep pushing you to be better, to make your next book even more compelling than your last, but be careful about how wide you open the floodgates. The line between too much and just right is microscopically thin.

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