A Smidgeon More on Writing through Fear

Writing was always the one thing of which I wasn’t afraid.

Okay, no. Not true. I wasn’t afraid of stuffed toys, or live animals (although horses are REALLY BIG, you know?). I wasn’t afraid of going to the doctor (once those shots were out of the way) or the dark or most bugs (don’t talk to me about fuzzy black caterpillars). But I was, let’s admit it, a cautious, shy, anxious child. And teenager. And young adult. I’m actually pretty proud of how, in the past years, I’ve done a pretty good turn-about on fear and anxiety, to the point where I can almost welcome change and where I’ll purposely try something new, even with a risk of failure.

So there’s some not-so-delicious irony that after decades of writing without fear, life has decided to flip things around and dish up a plateful of writing fear for me to deal with.

I can trace it back to plenty of stuff–to actually getting some pieces of writing to a submittable place and then not getting accepted. To getting tangled in a book I really wanted to write and having to put it away unfinished. To, possibly, even getting so many other ducks in a nice, calm row that there was finally room for writing to be something other than an escape? Maybe?

Whatever, can I just say that the writing fear is not welcome? Did I need another test for my mindfulness attempts? Did I need to be told, okay, here’s one of the most important things in your life, and you’re going to have to experience all the thoughts about where you haven’t “succeeded” in the past and also (in case you thought you were going to get off easy) those thoughts about where you might very well not “succeed” in the future? And you’re going to need to let those worries flow into you for a bit and then let them flow out again, and in the midst of all that in and out actually get some writing done?

Personally, I’d vote for: No, I didn’t need this. But apparently, life is not a democracy. Or, even a dictatorship with me at the head of my own personal mental state. Life is, darn it, just life…and things come up when they come up, right? Sometimes I wish I could believe that they come up with a purpose, or because they’re what I do need at the moment, but that’s not how I see it. Steps I’ve taken and choices I’ve made have lead me here, and now I get to deal with it. My challenge and quest for right now is to be mindful of the fear, but to not let it control me. To remember that what I’m doing at any given time is what I’m doing and to do it the best and most focused that I can. In other words, to keep writing.

So that’s where I’ll be.


  1. Kelly Ramsdell Fineman says:

    Ah. “Success” seems to be the problem here, yes? Because you are looking to others to know what it means, and that is the part you now have to unlearn again, to revert to when getting your ideas down in good order was what it was about. And not worrying about external validation. Which is beyond your control.

    Sounds hard, and it’s still easier to say than it is to do, but we have all been there, or are there, with you.


    • beckylevine says:

      Kelly, I’m sure that’s part of it, but there’s something else–something about my own abilities to put a vision down on paper. I think. But nothing else to do but starting trying to put it there and stay as much in that as I can! And when I do manage, I fall back in love with the whole process, so I’m pretty sure it’s the right path! Thanks for the thoughts!


  2. All we can do is our best at any given moment. There is a lot of fear in writing–but no one would ever get published if they didn’t face it down. Keep pushing forward, Becky!


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