Friday, April 19, 2013

Life Lessons—Facing Fear and Finding Freedom

by Reba J. Hoffman Ph.D.

You’d think writer wannabes call it quits because they realize they can’t write their way out of a wet paper bag. Not so. Bar none, the most common report I get for why writers aren’t successful is because they become paralyzed by fear.

Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of pitching. Fear of conferences. Fear of success. Fear of weirdoes who will take their prose and go viral in a non-flattering way. The list goes on but I’ll stop. After all, this is just a blog post.

The point is writers seem to be especially prone to FP: Fear Paralysis. They start out great. They’re so excited and want to change the world with their prose. They dream of walking into Barnes and Noble to see dozens of their latest best seller lining the center aisle.

Then, something happens. You never see them again. Poof. They’re gone. Just like that. I’m not talking about a few. More like hundreds, maybe even thousands, so many that I feel I need to help you so you won’t be counted in that ever-increasing number.

Here’s the truth about fear. Take to heart and you’ll be fine.
  • It’s temporary. Always. Unless you live in a war torn country where bombs go off every day and people are gunned down in the streets, the fear comes…and it will also go.
  • It produces energy. When you feel the fear, there are chemicals coursing through your veins that prepare your body for a fight. Use it to your advantage. Let it propel you forward toward your goal.
  • It rarely happens. That which you fear rarely happens. You have such a GREAT imagination, you conjure up so many things to be fearful about, life couldn’t make them come to pass if it wanted to.
  • Everyone else feels the same way. Trust me on this on. Scared of sitting down in front of that editor for fifteen minutes showing them your baby? Guess what? There’s not a writer on the planet who says, “gee, that is such a relaxing experience.” In fact, it’s just the opposite. Welcome to the human race!
Fear is like a black racer snake. It’s not harmful at all but if you run from it, it will definitely chase you. It’s playful and just loves to hang around. Don’t run from fear. Play with it. Give it a name if you want to. I call mine Walter. When fear shows up, I notice that Walter’s back. No worries.

Let fear have its rightful place in your writing life. Embrace it and use it to your advantage. Capitalize on it. Own it and let it catapult you to that next level. You’ll be empowered beyond all you thought possible. Oh, and do it today!

When was the last time you felt fearful in your writing life? How did you react? Share it here!

Reba J. Hoffman is the founder and president of Magellan Life Coaching ( She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling and is a natural encourager. She serves as Member Care Coach for My Book Therapy and is the author of Dare to Dream, A Writer’s Journal. You can connect with Reba through her motivational blog, Finding True North, or by email at You can also follow her on Twitter at @RebaJHoffman.


  1. I feel fear every time I walk into a bookstore. Why do I think the world needs one more book? Answer: because mine isn't out yet. At least that's my answer on a brave day.

  2. That should be your answer EVERY day, Debbie. The world needs what you have to contribute to it. Imagine what Barnes and Noble would look like if every author who got scared went the other way. The shelves would be bare.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. The last time I felt fear, I jumped into my "security net" -- my trusted group of writer-friends, who know me and can talk me off the ledge. Who speak truth. Who pray for me. Who can break through my fears when I can't and help me get back on solid ground.

    1. Thank God for writer friends who know us, understand us, don't judge us and blanket us with their love and support. Glad you're one of those friends to me Beth! Don't know what I'd do without ya!

  4. I really like the idea of naming my fear. Makes it feel more manageable and adds some light-heartedness that I seldom remember when I'm afraid. I'm going to think up a good name today. Thanks, Reba.

  5. Yay Kim! Amazing how small fear is when we cut it down to size! Let me know what you name your fear. Thanks for posting!

  6. I've got it, Reba. I'm naming it Bear because you said embrace it. I'll be sure to give Bear a bear hug. :) Wonder if I'll think that's funny, or even remember it, when I'm afraid? Giving it a try. Thanks again!