Mistake #2: Trying to Escape Self-Doubt Before You Sit Down to Write
In a Conversation with Fear, Fear Usually Wins
Most of us have that icky dread feeling, to some degree, on many of the days we sit down to write. For me, it’s most days, especially if I have had to skip days due to, you know, life intervening, etc.
Momentum seems to banish fear really, really well, and when momentum is interrupted, that’s when the danger zone appears.
All the old stuff comes up: What am I doing? This sounds crazy. It doesn’t even make sense to any normal person who can read English. I need to just leave here and go get a gigantic decaf at Dunkin’ Donuts, immediately, either that or go get a full time job. Or something. Help. Crap. Help. Etc.
I don’t know if any of this sounds familiar to you? 🙂
HOW IT WORKS:
Tangling with Your Fear Opens You to an Overwhelm of Bad Vibes
There are ways to have discussions with your doubt, with your fear. I personally have found it helps best to do this in a context very separate from my writing time, using specific neuroscience-based brain therapies like EMDR or Laurel Mellin’s EBT that literally rewire your fear rather than leaving you–your left-brain logic, that is–battling with it.
Fear lives in your lizard brain, the most ancient place in you, and it will beat logic every time.
The right brain, however, is where you live when you’re writing: it’s where insight, intuition, connection, and beauty can transport you to curiosity, momentum, fun, even peace, before the growly lizard even fully wakes up from his nap.
(If you try to talk to him, though, you’re definitely going to wake him up. . . )
But Isn’t Being Conscious of Your Fear What Releases It?
Yes. But so is action.
It’s helpful to investigate, sometimes. I myself do this once in awhile in my journal. I give my fear an embodiment, as a little monster or what have you, and we do a little dialogue: what is my fear trying to protect me from? What does it need from me? This can be really useful to do from time to time.
The thing is: this takes me at least an hour. Maybe 90 minutes. It is kind of a drag. I am tired and worn out afterwards. It makes me feel like I am really lazy, but actually I’m just exhausted. I mean who wouldn’t be, spending all that time with the worst vibes I’ve got?
I lose my writing morning, basically. I sometimes find out what my monsters and fears are providing me with, but I actually kind of already know this. It doesn’t help me with my day. It doesn’t give me that same powerful, happy feeling that writing 500 words does, nevermind 1000.
WHAT TO DO:
So Simple: Just Write.
It does work for me to do a short, non-demanding meditation before I write.
But investigating my fears before I start my writing day doesn’t give me the same thrill as cruising into my right brain and letting the amazing magic show up.
Wherever the hell the writing comes from, it zooms through me and into reality on planet earth and I am so shocked, every day, by this miracle that I forget to be afraid anymore.
I believe in dialoguing with your fear, being conscious of it and breaking it down to size so it’s not just some huge overwhelming cloud of dreadfulness and resistance. I have my students do it all the time in individual consultations and in workshops.
But it’s not what my writing time is for.
Writing Time Is Sacred
Writing time is writing time, that’s it. You need to do it every day. It is precious, holy time, where you receive this magic.
It is not journal time, it is not investigate-my-personal-deepest-darkest-secrets-time.
It is the time to open up to the universe of story and be a vessel for magic.
Action Is the Fastest Banisher of Doubt
When you take action in response to your fear, rather than getting into a logic battle with an ancient lizard who lives in your head, you win.
Your brain and your body note: Oh, I feel BETTER when I just take ACTION.
Your neurons register this. So the next time you feel fear, they are more likely to remember, oh action, meaning just writing already, is the remedy.
Dunkin’ Donuts is not the remedy. Ten scrawly cranky journal pages on why you’re so screwed, this is not the remedy either.
The only fix is to step right past that fear, rather than diving into it.
The only fix is to sit down and get writing. For five minutes, fifteen minutes, an hour, whatever is the norm for you.
How to Dose the Lizard With Nyquil
Sidestep the battle, zoom into the stratosphere, and just write.
That is the secret to tiptoeing past Mr. Scaly.
(So much easier than trying to get his icky little lizard teeth off their death-grip on your ankle.) 😉