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Challenge Yourself To Take On Your Biggest Writing Fear

by Jennifer on June 15, 2010

By Jennifer Blanchard

If you want to be a writer, you’re going to be put up against many challenges. And these challenges can either make you or break you—the choice is yours.

As a writer, you’ll face challenges, such as:

This list could go on.

And while these challenges are a bit scary, there’s nothing scarier than allowing fears to take over your life and prevent you from writing anything.

That’s why it’s so important to take on challenges and to take on the things you’re scared of. Because facing the fear is the first step toward overcoming it.

Facing Fear Head-On
One thing most people don’t know about me is that I’m terrified of dogs. Especially big ones.

When I was almost four, I watched my two-year-old brother get mangled by the German Shepherd that lived next door to my grandma. And my fear developed from there.

Growing up, I cringed when a dog came near me. I’d get sweaty; my heartbeat would quicken; and my body would freeze. This happened every time I was near a dog—and especially a dog I didn’t know.

But then last year I had a thought—Why was I allowing something that happened in my past to shape my future?

So last July, I decided to face my fear of dogs head-on: I bought a puppy. A sweet, adorable, little Toy Poodle puppy.

For the first few days, things were chaos. I was totally freaked out and afraid he was going to chew my fingers off. And I couldn’t sleep. I’d wake up every five minutes just to check on him.

After the second night of not sleeping, I was ready to give up the dog. I even went so far as to post an ad for him on Craig’s List (which like five people answer immediately!).

But then I realized that I was giving up too easily. I was allowing the fear to consume me so much that I didn’t see what a beautiful boy I had right in front of my eyes.

So I kept him.

I took the ad down and decided that we were a family now and I wasn’t going to back out of it. He is mine forever.

A couple years ago, if you told me I would own a dog one day, I’d tell you that you were nuts. But now, almost a year after I brought my puppy home, I can’t imagine my life without him.

And I never would’ve known the joy of dog ownership if I hadn’t stepped up to the plate and faced my fear head-on.

Step Up and Challenge Yourself
If you’ve been holding back from writing for whatever reason, now’s your chance to make a change. Now’s your chance to challenge yourself to write.

Figure out what fears are holding you back, and then make the decision to face them head-on.

Maybe you’re afraid of writing because you don’t want to fail. Maybe you’re avoiding writing because you don’t want people to think differently of you. Or maybe you don’t write because you’re allowing excuses to hold you back.

Whatever your fears might be, challenge yourself to face them. Do something you wouldn’t normally do (me getting a dog!). Try something new. Be OK with the outcome you get.

If you allow your fears to hold you back in life, you’ll never reach your writing dreams—and isn’t that scarier?

So face your fears. Be brave. Stay strong.

What fears are holding you back from writing? What challenge are you going to take on?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. For more great writing tips, articles and information, follow her on Twitter. 


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark June 15, 2010 at 10:48 am

3 years ago I finally stopped talking about writing and actually started…today I have a book to show for it. Now I’m in the marketing phase, and my previous triumph is what keeps me going…all because I got over that initial fear. Thanks for sharing, your pup’s adorable (much cuter than my book) 🙂

2 jennifer blanchard June 15, 2010 at 10:59 am

@Mark Congrats!! That is a HUGE accomplishment! Do you have any tips you can share for how you managed to overcome the initial fear?

3 Andrew Toynbee June 16, 2010 at 6:43 am

Last year I set myself the goal of completing my first novel before the end of 2010. Not too scary as I’d been writing on and off since I was at school back in the black-and-white days.
What scared me (and still does on a daily basis) was the ‘sending out’ part. It twisted my insides to think of a professional Agent scrutinising my attempts at being a Wordsmith.
The ‘What if’ monster began to stalk me, damping down my confidence with its big sweaty paws.
But I’m still determined.
The alternative is to give up, turn up my toes, hang up my boots, fade into the background. Quit.
Never!
I’d rather be scared for a year than nurse my regrets for the rest of my life.
Think of it like a fairground ride (a real fear of mine!) with a pot of gold at the end.
It’s scary, yes. But what a reward awaits the bold!
Get on that ride.
Be scared.
And Win.

4 jblan June 16, 2010 at 9:31 am

@Andrew Toynbee You’re absolutely right! Sending your writing into the world to be scrutinized is scary. I felt the same way about creating a video post for this blog. It took me a year to get up the courage to do it. But I’m with you–i’d rather be scared for a year then full of regrets the rest of my life. I really like your “fairground ride” analogy. It’s perfect.

5 Mark June 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Fear is what got me over my fear. The fear of always being a talker and never a doer, the fear of not living my dreams, the fear of failure.

6 jennifer blanchard June 17, 2010 at 9:39 am

@Mark Isn’t it amazing how fear itself can be a great motivator? I think it’s awesome that you’ve stepped up to the plate and used fear to fuel you. Congrats! You’re on your way to big things.

7 e.lee June 21, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Anger can be a motivator, a riposte to all the naysayers who say that you can;t succeed

8 Kim Morin June 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Hi Jennifer. My problem is each of those things you mentioned. I wrote for years but never finished anything. Then I finally finished a novel! Hurray! Now I’m staring at it knowing I have to edit it. I know it is far from perfect and I have all kinds of ideas about how to edit it – it is just a daunting task. Then I think about finding an agent and my guts turn to ice water. Thanks for saying that each little fear is less than thinking I’ll never reach my dreams of writing. I need to tackle each one separately instead of one looming monster! I think I can… I think I can…

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