Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Writer's Fear

by Lynn H Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

A few weeks ago, I watched a live Adele concert. The lucky people who filled the venue were an enthusiastic audience. There were cheers, applause, and the occasional sing-a-long when she sang a favorite.

I’m a fan so I enjoyed it immensely, but I couldn’t help but be struck by her vulnerability. She stood on the stage and poured herself into each song, even though she wasn’t sure of the response she would get. At one point, she wiped tears from her eyes and told the crowd how nervous she was and how afraid she’d been that they wouldn’t like her new songs.

As I watched, I kept thinking, “She’s Adele for crying out loud! What does she have to be afraid of? How does she not know that people are going to love it?”

When it was over the cameras followed her off the stage, all the way to a waiting elevator where she threw herself into the arms of her boyfriend . . . and sobbed.

It’s an image I’ve been unable to shake.

Even if you aren’t a fan of her music, it’s impossible to deny Adele’s success. Her voice is instantly recognizable. Her songs debut at number one on the charts and stay there for weeks. Even in this digital age, her albums have shattered sales records.

If Adele is still worried about how her music will be received, what does that say for those of us putting our art into the world for the first, second, or third time?

I’m no expert on what it’s like to live a creative life over the long run, but I can tell you a few things about what it feels like to be new to the publishing game. I’m currently working on edits so I can send my next project to my agent and I’m hoping it will become my second published novel.

I did okay with my first book. I didn’t get hate mail, anyway. Most of my friends still make eye contact and they seem to want to see anther story, so I don’t think they are faking it when they say they liked it.

But I’m scared.

What if they don’t like it? What if I get horrible reviews? What if I get “fan” letters full of advice for how I could have done it better? What if I can’t ever write another book?

The truth is that most days I feel like a fraud. As hard as it was to learn to say, “I’m a writer,” I’m finding it even harder to say, “I’m an author.”

I used to think I was the only person neurotic enough to entertain such notions, but as I watched Adele sobbing in the elevator, it hit me.

It’s always going to be hard.

There is no measure of success that will change that.

There aren’t enough awards or accolades in the universe to make it any easier to be vulnerable. As long as we keep writing from a place of truth, releasing our books, stories, ideas, and poems into the world is going to be terrifying.

Now, as I consider my manuscript and how nervous I am about sending it to my agent, I’m choosing to accept the fear as part of the process. Instead of seeing it as a weakness that needs to be overcome, I’m looking at it as evidence of the pieces of my heart that fill those pages. I’m viewing it as proof that I’m dreaming big dreams.

I don’t know where you are on your writing journey, but whatever your stage is—fiction, nonfiction, poetry—get out there and pour yourself into every word and then hit send.
You don’t have to outgrow your fear to be successful, but you do have to act despite your fear.

Query the agent.

Enter the contest.

Attend the conference.

You’ll never regret it.

So how about you? What “stage” are you afraid to step out on? Have you ever passed on an opportunity because you were scared? Have any tips for handling fear?

Let’s talk about it in the comments.


Don’t forget to join the conversation!

TWEETABLES


Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. 

She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. 

She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at http://www.lynnhugginsblackburn.com.


19 comments:

  1. Lynn, This post will help many. Thank you. I am a recovering perfectionist. Idealistic tendencies raise their ugly head when I think about my first book being published. At times I freeze at the keyboard, wondering if my words are adequate. I know God is my strength and source of inspiration. I just need to get over myself and let God work in and through me.

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    1. Ah...so true..."I just need to get over myself and let God work"...I'm right there with you! Thanks for stopping by!
      Grace & peace,
      Lynn

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  2. Thanks for bringing this up. It helps to know I'm not alone. I deal with this on an almost daily basis. And I wonder if we'd be surprised who else shares this fear? My favorite way to overcome it is to remind myself that if God is in it...whatever the pursuit, it will succeed.

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    1. It IS comforting to know we aren't the only ones who feel this way, isn't it?! And I do something similar - I remind myself that God is the Ultimate Creator and He is more than capable of helping me craft a story that will honor Him!
      Thanks for sharing with us!
      Grace & peace,
      Lynn

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  4. I'm afraid that what I write won't matter. And I'm afraid it won't matter that I write it. My only published work is on my own blog, but I'll bet I get the same questions everyone does: "How's the writing going?" "What are you working on?" What's hard is that those same people don't seem to be reading what I write. The written comments are always from the same tiny core of staunch, loyal supporters and friends.
    So I go back to the notes I took when watching Michael Hyatt interview Glennon Doyle Melton. When they discussed having a small following, she said that I should just "love the bejeepers out of [them]."
    So, I do.
    I know that I don't need to know who reads what or if it matters or what's next. But I do know that my work will be blessed because I serve an Audience of One.
    Blessings to you all, NW

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    1. Oh - I love that! "love the bejeepers out of them" - such GREAT advice! Thanks for passing it along!
      Grace & peace,
      Lynn

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  5. This post hits the spot. I've recently been given an opportunity that actually pays. I'm reminding myself that I've volunteered for years and I have a lot to offer. Also, others might be as good as I am, but might not have the same calling.

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    1. That is so true! No one can ever tell the story - whatever it is - quite the way you can. Congratulations on a paid opportunity!!!
      Grace & peace,
      Lynn

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  6. Fear is a binding chain the drowns creativity.

    I write. I do not share often. Fear of offending, gobbled grammar, and visible ignorance causes me to be a closet writer. Yet, time in the Word or prayer pours words though me that fills piles of binders, crammed drawers, and computer folders.

    Therefore, your post today is a chain cutter. Thank you for sharing and causing me to be brave enough to comment. Share on!

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    1. Oh Carolyn - You are such an encourager. And you have a story that so many need to hear. Write on!!!!
      Grace and peace,
      Lynn

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  7. Great post, Lynn. I'm right there with you. In fact, my post last week on www.TheWriteEditing.com was about overcoming our fears as writers. It seems like the majority of writers deal with this in some way or another. Joyce Mayer once said, "Do it afraid." When we know God is leading us to do something, we have to step out and do it anyway. I've learned He will honor our faith and obedience when we trust Him with the outcome.

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    1. "Do it afraid." - I love that! I just popped over and read your post about overcoming fears - everyone needs to read that!! Great advice!
      Thank you for sharing!
      Grace and peace,
      Lynn

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  8. Thanks for sharing, Lynn. The sentence that struck me in your post is "Instead of seeing it as a weakness that needs to be overcome, I’m looking at it as evidence of the pieces of my heart that fill those pages." I write from my core depth and personal experiences. If those pieces of my heart can help one person, then it is all worth while and for the glory of God.

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    1. It's always amazing to me to watch how God uses our vulnerability to help others. Grace and peace to you as you write from the deep places!
      Lynn

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  9. I too was struck by her vulnerability and even mentioned to Brian that I couldn't believe she was so nervous about how she would be received. "Acting despite the fear" is timely advice. Thank you, Lynn! I look forward to your second novel. :)

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    1. Thank you, Cathy! I hope you'll be reading it soon! :)
      Grace & peace,
      Lynn

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  10. I think the best example of this is Elvis Presley. If you read any of his biographies, you see how insecure he really was. Always afraid he would be forgotten. He was terrified to do the Comeback show. And now...well, he had nothing to worry about.

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  11. Lynn, you summed up what I feel every day, and I write this in my daily journal to combat the IMPOSTOR SYNDROME, "May the Lord be with me as I write, I live to serve and I serve by writing."

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