Sitting down to write the first page of your first book is terrifying, but that was expected because starting anything for the first time is scary.
No one warned me that the fear would follow me around for more than just a page.
I’ve already written a couple of thousand words, and yet, every day, I find myself hesitant to keep writing.
I thought I’d have to overcome that fear and doubt once, and then it would be easier from there. The rest of my struggles would be about the craft and creating characters and telling a good story.
How wrong I was.
Fear shows up every day, and since it couldn’t stop me from starting, it’s trying to prevent me from continuing.
Since it’s planning on staying for a while, here’s how I’m tackling it. And if you’re struggling too, here’s how you can fight that fear.
1. Remember how well you did yesterday
You wrote yesterday. Whether it was a thousand words or two hundred, you managed to put some of your story on the page.
If you did it yesterday, you can do it again today. That’s how it works.
Let your past self motivate your present self.
2. You run fear, not the other way around
Fear is so powerful that it makes it easy to believe it holds the upper hand. Despite its strength, that’s not true.
Giving in to fear is a choice. It’s not a demand you must give in to, even if it feels that way.
It’s up to you whether you’ll give in to your fears or fight them.
3. Remember the person you want to be
I want to say I sat down to write when I didn’t want to, stuck through the hard moments, and persevered. I want to say I made it to the finish line.
I don’t want to say that the book I was writing was too difficult to figure out, so I quit. I don’t want to be the kind of person who gives in because shit gets real.
Keep who you want to be and who you don’t want to be in mind.
4. Keep your goals in mind
Like every writer out there, I’d love it if, one day, a book of mine hit the New York Times Bestsellers list.
I dream of the words on the front cover of my book, and a Stephen King review in the back.
I don’t put any merit on lofty goals like that, but it’s nice to envision anyway. So, if I need to, I let it motivate me.
Whether it’s my fifth or tenth or fifteenth book that receives that honor, it’s not going to happen until I get through one.
5. Want these things more than you want fear to stop you
What sounds more exciting to you: finishing your book or letting fear beat you into quitting?
The answer is obvious. Fear is a persuasive fucker, and it’s easy to want to give in to its promises of safety and comfort.
If you compare those promises to finishing your first draft, writing sounds a hell of a lot more exciting than your comfort zone.
Give in to the things society tells you to stay away from and reject fear.
6. You can’t let your stories go unheard
Tap into your fear of death. You could tell me you’re not afraid of it, but we’re all afraid of it, even if it’s just a little.
Don’t die without having told your story. I hate thinking about death, but I think about it anyway because it pushes me to do the things I’m afraid of.
I get one chance at life, and I’m not about to fuck it up because of fear.
Keep writing your book because if you want to be a writer like you say, not sharing your story will haunt you when you’re a hundred-years-old and dying.
Sorry to get morbid on you, but it’s the truth.
7. Trust yourself
I started this article without really knowing what I was going to talk about. I let the points come to me as I wrote, and now here we are, at the final one.
If you want to overcome fear, you have to trust yourself and your ability to write the damn book.
Forget the doubts and concerns and all the insecurities trying to convince you you can’t do this.
Tap into that small part of you that does believe you can do this, and let it guide you to the page. Let it push you to write.