Write about the thing you fear the most. – Ed Cyzewski

Writing and Fear

© 2013 Patrik Theander, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

On the surface, I’m not a very fearful person.  I’m not anxious about big disasters or concerned about the government and surveillance.  I don’t spend a lot of thinking time about the bad things that might happen or shy away from experiences because I don’t know what to expect. I’m blessed in that way.

But I’m still fearful a lot. . . particularly when it comes to my writing.  Honestly, just putting down those words has made my throat constrict.

  • I fear that I will offend – or worse – hurt people with my work, particularly when it comes to writing about enslaved people.
  • I fear I will spend too much time on work that doesn’t matter, writing books no one cares about or that don’t have any lasting merit.
  • I fear I will work too much for money and too little for meaning.
  • I fear I will never be “successful” enough to feel satisfied.
  • I fear my work doesn’t matter at all.
  • I fear I’m not a good writer.

At root, all of those fears come from placing the value of what I do outside of the work itself, and while I know – in my mind – that putting value in anything beyond the practice of writing itself is futile and dangerous, my heart still craves affirmation – that’s really the core of all those fears – my desire for affirmation.

I’m still battling through all these things, trying to find peace and the courage to keep moving forward. I expect this will be a lifelong battle for me – this fight to find value in the work, not the response to it.

But it helps to write out the fears, to speak them into an existence beyond my mind.  It helps to remind myself that my value does not come through any word I put down, not through any sale, not through any idea of “success.”  It helps to remind myself that my work matters because it is done out of an obedience to who I am created to be, because I am made – at the core of who I am – to write.

I will surely offend. I will surely not sell “enough” books. I will surely spend far too much time trying to pay bills and not enough on art. I will surely find that most people do not care about my work, that my work does not matter in some global sense, that sometimes I am not very good at this work at all.

Yet, I must ground myself, again and again, in the affirmation that matters – the Voice that says, “I love you, Andi, for all of who you are and all who you are becoming.”

If it would help, please share your fears about writing – or anything else – here.  I will hold them precious and true.