“Fear is an insidious virus. Given a breeding place in our mind, it will permeate the whole body of our work. It will eat away our spirit and lock the forward path of our endeavors. Fear is the greatest enemy of progress.” ~James F. Bell
It goes without saying that time is irreplaceable. When a day passes, it can never be reclaimed or replaced. Time is such a precious resource, yet many of us squander or don’t appreciate it through fear. Fear of starting to write that book, fear of not finishing it, fear of critique, fear that people will not like what you write, fear of not having enough money, fear of failure, fear of success… the list goes on.
As James F. Bell states, “Fear is an insidious virus…” and this deadly virus sometimes creates such a stir that if you fail in a single endeavour, it can paralyze you for years to come. As such, you don’t use your time effectively to achieve success since you either procrastinate and time passes you by, or your hopes and dreams dry up because you give fear the power to rule you.
That’s the bad news. The good news is there are techniques that you can use to enable you to step out of the ‘fear’ mode so you can move forward. You will be surprised at the opportunities that seemed invisible once you claim back your power from fear.
There are four steps I learned and used a few years ago, and continue to use to eliminate doubts and fear when I feel it creeping in; you can use them too. These steps will not only help you to handle fear, but you will feel motivated to use your time to go ahead with those projects, ventures or dreams you left on ice because you felt they were out of reach.
- Make a list of the things you want to do. Now I don’t mean a laundry list of things that are easily achievable. Clearly define what you really want. For example, you’ve always wanted to write that book. Next, state why.
Purpose: Determining exactly what you want and writing down why you want to do it is the first step to getting you outside your boundary of comfort. Many of us brush our goals and aspirations into the shadows. So bring it to life by having it in front of your eyes. For instance, “I want to write a book for Young Adults on self-esteem.” At this point all your fears may come to the forefront of your mind in the form of obstacles. Don’t ignore them, instead…
- List the obstacles. It could be, “I haven’t pursued writing the book because I fear rejection,” or “I haven’t pursued writing the book because I fear criticism. I’m not smart enough,” etc. Whatever is standing in your way, write it down.
Purpose: Confront the obstacles. Most times we are fully aware of them, but shove it aside so as not to deal with them.
- Next, write what are your reasons for not confronting the obstacles. As you work through them, one of your reasons for not confronting an obstacle could be that you don’t think an agent would find your work interesting let alone a publisher, and you would be stuck with an unpublished manuscript.
Purpose: You may have never tackled these obstacles before because you allowed fear to antagonize you. This way, you are challenging the obstacles head first.
- Finally, create a risk-reward analysis chart for each of your fears. You can use a table chart with four columns, or you can simply outline as below.
Purpose: Many times, things are blown out of proportion, by using the chart you are able to put things in perspective.
It’s important that you commit the above to paper. This physical act will monumentally lift your spirit. So using the reason that you don’t think an agent would find your work interesting, outline the following:
Risk Reward Analysis
What do you fear? An agent won’t like my work and will reject it.
Worse Case. I can’t get an agent.
Best Case. I’ll get and agent and she’ll represent me and find a publisher for my work.
Likely Case. I’ll get an agent, but she will only represent me when the work is edited.
In this instance, you can see that your worst case scenario would be no different than if you approach an agent and she rejects you. With your best case scenario and your likely case scenario, there is the possibility that you could get an agent. With this in front of you, your fears should evaporate and you should feel motivated to use your time to do what is necessary to get an agent to represent you.
Continue to do this for each of your fears and as you go through the different scenarios, you will find that you’ve probably unnecessarily magnified your fears.
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Cherry-Ann Carew, The Power Writing Coach, Editor, and Founder of Writetastic Solutions, is a co-author of the bestselling How the Fierce Handle Fear – ‘Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times.’ Cherry-Ann helps writers with their creative expression to add value to their books. Learn how her coaching and editing services can help you with your book. Subscribe for your FREE SPECIAL REPORT: Discover The 3 Simple Steps That Will Help You Start And Finish Your Book. Yes, you can have a finished draft in no time!