“Fear is felt by writers at every level. Anxiety accompanies the first word they put on paper and the last.”
― Ralph Keyes,
Fear isn't something we talk about a lot in terms of creative process. But it can keep us from following our dreams for years, even lifetimes. And that's a real shame.
Because, at the end of your life, you don't want to have big regrets.
I never wrote that novel I dreamed of.
I never published a short story.
I never wrote down that children's story.
I never followed my dream of writing.
I've heard lots of people say some variation of this. You probably have, too. The good news is, it is virtually never too late to follow your dream.
Don't believe me? Check out these late bloomers:
Grandma Moses began to paint seriously at the age of 78.
Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't publish Little House on the Prairie until she was 64.
Frank McCourt was 66 when he published the Pulitzer-prize winning Angela's Ashes.
Millard Kaufman published his first novel, Bowl of Cherries, at the age of 90.
Anna Sewell published Black Beauty when she was 57.
Richard Adams published Watership Down at 53.
James Michener was 40 when he published South Pacific.
(He went on to write 40 more books before he died at the age of 90.)
What the heck are we so afraid of?
We fear that we aren't good enough, no matter how much others tell us that we are.
We fear that we can't "make it" as a writer.
We fear that no one will want to hear what we have to say.
We fear that it has all been said before.
We fear that it will be too hard.
We fear that others will be disappointed if we follow our dreams.
Look, I'm not suggesting that you ditch the day job to write the great American novel. The truth is that the majority of us had better keep a day job as long as we can, even after publishing that first, second, or third novel.
For most people, writing just doesn't pay what it used to.
Luckily, writing is something you can work into your life no matter what you are doing. If it is your passion, and you are disciplined, before you know it writing will be an important part of your life. And when you have passion AND discipline, success follows. It simply does. Will you become rich? Financially speaking, probably not. But will writing enrich your life?
And never forget what writer Kimberly Turner has to say about the matter:
Here's what we need to remember: We are writers. Not Olympic gymnasts. Not runway models. Not strippers. We don't need to cash out at age 20. We've got plenty of time to master our craft, ditch some manuscripts that don't work, get rejected, and start again. We've even got time to build another career that's altogether unrelated to writing, decide that it's not right for us, change direction, and become successful in publishing. As long as we can move our fingers on the keys, we still stand a chance at making our authorial dreams come true.
Other inspirations & cool links