This is the second of a two-part series on overcoming fear. Part 1 of the series discusses how I overcome my of heights. Here, I explain how I use that technique to conquer my fears to overcome my inner demons and become a FEARLESS writer.
I envy the writer whose words embrace me, make me shiver, and arouse my emotions. With words, they let me into their mind, show their pain, pour their hearts out. They write with passion and purpose, and it makes all the difference to me as a reader. I connect with them because they are authentic and speak from the heart. They are fearless in their writing.
So what is keeping me from doing the same? Why do I imposed restrictions that let me reveal only so much, and then pull the barriers tightly around me? Is it fear of rejection, fear of being exposed as a fraud, or worse, as a person with flaws.
I have been culturally programmed to blend in, not make waves, not complain, and to be the “good” girl. Ironically, in the last ten years I have learned to speak my mind. With the help of Toastmasters and Improv classes, I started to verbalize my inner thoughts and feeling. I now speak more spontaneously and openly. I no longer orate or make reports, I engaged the audience.
Curiously, having learned to trust my voice as a speaker has not directly helped me find my voice as a writer. It is still a struggle. Since the fears of public speaking are similar to those of opening up as a writer, it is hard for me to understand what is preventing me from opening up to the reader. I must first determine what are the barriers that are keeping my true voice locked away, hidden from my readers before I can tear them down.
What is the difference between the two forms of communication. When speaking, I have immediate feedback. I know when the audience gets my message or not; I can make adjustments and change my tone or style to better fit the audience. There is much more uncertainty when writing. Unlike speaking to the general public, I must picture my ideal reader and write as if I am in conversation with the that person. I must have faith in my instincts, write what I feel, and trust that the right reader will get my point.
Perhaps it is the permanency of writing that scares me. Once on paper, I can’t take it back. My thoughts, feelings, and personal stories now belong to my readers. But, isn’t this why I write? When I was in seventh grade, I had to compose a sentence or two about what I want to do with my life. I wrote that I wanted to instill a thought in someone’s mind that would lead that person to do something great. I wanted my thoughts to be the seed or catalyst for someone else. How can I fulfill that goal if I keep my thoughts to myself.
For me, dealing with my fear of heights is easier than coping with rejection, fear of exposure, and accountability. This surprises me. There is a physical danger associated with heights—I can fall and get hurt. Writing authentically, on the other hand, can only hurt my ego. It can also boost it as I make real connections with my readers.
Repurposing the mnemonic Fearless from my previous blog, here are my steps for confronting my fears and releasing my voice.
F – Face the fear. What am I afraid of? Why do I have this fear?
E – Envision my ideal reader. Write for that person. If the others don’t get the message, so what. This may sound cavalier, but I can’t please everyone.
A – Authenticity. Be authentic. Let my readers see who I am.
R – Remove the self-imposed limitation. Understanding what the barriers are is helping me tear them down.
L – Lighten up. Don’t be too critical.
E – Expose myself in small steps. I use my blog, Twitter, and Facebook to practice opening up to my readers. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t.
S – Stick my neck out. Write with passion. Shiver a little, bleed a little.
S – Say what is on my mind and in my heart.
I hope my lessons are helpful to you. Have you confronted your fears as a writer? What are they and how are you working them out? Please comment, I would love to hear from you.