She caught my eye from across the sanctuary, this stranger. As I walked toward her to meet my wife at a registration table, she smiled brightly at me. “I know you,” she said. “I just started reading your blog the other day.”

Panic rushed through the core of my being, along with the hypothetical judgments I knew this deceptively sweet woman was going toFB Profile throw my way….

Do you REALLY think it’s a good idea to be running a 5K with a seizure disorder?

I have a major issue with the last post you wrote!

For such a tall guy, you sure do write poorly.

I hate the Oxford comma and everyone who uses it!

The way you write about your struggles with God is a sin. I’m praying for you.

Oxford commas and height jokes? Yes, even my worst-case scenarios have sarcasm.

But no judgment came my way. She simply said, “I like the way you write.” I smiled and waited for the rest of the sentence – the nasty part – to tumble out of her mouth. Instead, she said, “You give me courage to face my fears.” Then changed the subject.

I was dumbfounded. No snarky commentary on punctuation? No condescending look over the rims of her librarian glasses? No strong suggestions to talk with my pastor? Just sincere gratitude?

In that moment, I realized how my assumptions about others’ preconceptions impacted my confidence as a writer. I assumed an argumentative stance against anyone coming toward me. This presumption of negativity sapped my freedom as an artist.

No more. I made a choice that day to step away from imaginary judgment and to honor my creativity by not assuming the worst.

I know the day will come when I have face-to-face criticism for my writing. When it does arrive, I hope to face it with confidence in my artistic voice, not fear of an opinion different than mine. Until then, I plan to silence the invented critics in my own head.

How do you manage fear when people recognize you as a writer?

Chris Morris is a CPA by day, but a creative at heart. He loves telling stories to inspire and encourage. He also loves a great cup of coffee, preferably French press. He writes at http://www.chrismorriswrites.com. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cmorriswrites. You can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChrisMorrisWriter.