How to control fear

Are you a fearful writer? Do you worry about what will happen when you send out a manuscript? Do you worry about speaking in public? Do you worry and are anxious to promote your new book? Do you hate writer’s conferences because you hate to speak in public and to meet other writers?

If you answered any of these questions in the affirmative you are allowing your fear to control you and your writing life. It is important for writers to relinquish fears as much as possible and just accept of what will happen. We don’t have a lot of control over much of the writer’s life. But what we can control are our fears. So, we must take steps to really connect with our emotions and to free ourselves from the damaging and paralyzing impact of fear on our success and productivity.

Writers are afraid of many things. So, it is crucially important for us to come to terms with our fears and to determine what they are. For instance, are you afraid of sending out manuscripts for fear of rejection? Do you believe that your skills as a writer are not good enough to be a successful writer? Do you compare yourself to others all the time and believe that you are not as good a writer as your colleagues or friends?

Become aware of as many of your fears as possible. If possible, write them down. This will help you to be able to do something about them and to come to terms with them. Also, by writing them down, you will become aware of what you are really afraid of over and over again.

The best way to approach your fear is as a story. Allow yourself to envision different conclusions. Don’t just focus on one particular outcome. For instance, if pitching is a real fear of yours, write down your fears with different endings, such as:

• If I pitch to X publisher, I will get rejected;
• If I pitch to X publisher, I will be asked to submit more of my work so that they could assess whether or not they really would like to publish it;
• If I pitch to X publisher, I will be interviewed by the editor. I don’t know what I will do then.

But also write the story down with positive possible outcomes such as:

• If I pitch to X publisher, I may have to get my manuscript ready on a timeline;
• If I pitch to X publisher, I may finally break into that market;
• If I pitch to X publisher, I will be starting the process of submitting my work to potential publishers;
• If I keep pitching, I will be getting used to pitching my work.

By changing your fears and making them into possible story lines, you can minimize the fear and paralysis of the fear.

Try it!

Irene S. Roth

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