With all due respect to President Roosevelt, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," is a bunch of motivational bullshit. Being afraid of the "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance" isn't the worst thing ever. I mean, let's be honest, there's never an actual rock bottom. Things can always get worse when I fail.
Failure is one of the most overwhelming fears, no matter the situation. The dread of having my hopes dashed at the very same time I confirm that there's yet another thing I'm horrible at is enough to scare me into inaction. This is why I can't bring myself to start writing a novel.
No matter how many intricate universes I have banging around in my skull, I'm too afraid to commit them to paper. I love these worlds so much, what if everyone else thinks they're garbage? I will have wasted an embarrassing amount of time on something unworthy. Why in the hell did I think I could be a writer anyway?
I have had a number of acquaintances over the years who tell anyone willing to listen that they are authors (in spite of not being published.) Their confidence is intimidating. There's no way I could be one if I've never been sure about anything I've created. Even when I've written professionally, I still feel like a fake. I know everyone will find out what a phony I am sooner or later.
But these universes that I have created have taken on a life of their own. Some of them are so real, I can see them in my head as well as any place I've ever been. I woke up at 4 AM yesterday with a scene from one playing out in my mind. I liked it so much, I couldn't fall back asleep until 6. I wanted to write it down.
I tried to write it. I opened up a blank page and started typing. And everything sounded stupid and childish and wrong. For me, the opening paragraph has to be perfect if I'm writing something I care about. I will stare at that obnoxious blinking cursor on the screen for an hour straight because I can't seem to think of a decent first sentence. It's the foundation that rest of work will be based upon. How can I proceed with anything less than perfect?
I decided to look for inspiration from published authors. Cheery little encouragements like "just keep writing!!!" and "A real writer can't stop writing!" make me want to vomit. I need something a little more realistic. I need to hear someone has been in the same position I have, that same fear of failure, and still managed to accomplish great things.
I found these. Maybe they'll help ease the fear, if only for as long as it takes to get past writing the first paragraph.
|by Stephen King|