Conquering Fear to Rescue Creativity
Post written by guest writer Sarah Eriksson.
Fear is a tough being to encounter. It comes in different shapes and keeps our creativity at bay. Thoughts like I'm not good enough, Why would anyone be interested in my story? and What if no one reads it? loom in the corners of our minds and sometimes envelop creativity in darkness.
Unfortunately, we all struggle with self-doubt and fear when summoning the strength to create. I am no different. For me, the fear manifests itself in an array of ways. I have felt untalented, like a failure, and like a fraud. I have gaslighted myself with the fear of not being good at telling compelling stories. Luckily I have my husband, who reminds me (every day) that those thoughts are from the beings of fear. They are not real.
For years I have struggled to read stories apart from my own. I consumed fiction through TV shows and movies, but books frightened me. As soon as I read George RR Martin's works, I panicked as anxiety approached me, and my self-doubt took center stage. There was no way I could create something like that. The complexity, the drama, and the world-building would be unattainable for me. I felt like an imposter and a fraud compared to published authors. This was one of the many ways that fear quelled my creativity.
Before 2021 I did not consider the amount of work and editing behind published books. As I, in early 2021, began such a journey myself, I realized that a published author does not stand entirely alone: beta readers, alpha readers, critique partners, and editors all aid in bringing the author's vision into the light. Published and well-recognized authors are not what the L'oréal commercial claims: "Born with it." Talent comes from practice, grit, and finding the dream/passion burning within.
Can we slay these beings of fear? I would argue no, not entirely. The fear of failure will always plague creativity. However, we can learn to keep the beings of fear at bay and perhaps even use them in our creativity's favor.
For me, writing and storytelling may end up extremely personal. I use writing to explore life through the lives of others. I have been in and out of hospitals for the last couple of years, and it has been quite traumatic. I face the anxiety, fear, and hopelessness I felt in those situations through my fictional characters. Those emotions are a part of me. So if we can incorporate moral dilemmas and life choices that we struggle with personally in our writing, why should we not be able to face our insecurities about what we create?
Imagine writing a story about a person out of their depth. Maybe they are fighting a corrupt government, standing up to an evil ruler, or entering a new line of work. In most cases, people would feel anxiety or even fear in these situations. Self-doubt and insecurities may arise. This is a perfect way to get yourself started. Yes, you are scared. Yes, you do not believe you are good enough. Yes, you may fear making a fool of yourself. But in letting those thoughts triumph and quell your creativity, you lose. The person you may be writing about, what if they would give up because of their fear? How would the Lord of the Rings work if Frodo gave up? Sure, he has a lot of anxiety and self-doubt, but with the help of friends and his own courage, he powers through and has become a classic tale of standing up against evil forces.
If you have a story you want to tell, it will find a way out. The first novel I finished took me 15 years to write. I have struggled with depression and given up at times, but the characters always find a way to force me back up. Remember, you are not alone and if you need aid to fight back against the beings of fear, surround yourself with people who can help you quell those evil thoughts. Family, friends, but also writing communities are here to aid you.
You are not alone. I believe in you. Remember that the beings of fear—whether they manifest themselves as self-doubt or as imposter syndrome—are beings all of us struggle with. Whether you are a writer, a new parent, new at your job or at a new school, fear always looms nearby. As a writer, channel the emotions you are feeling through your characters. That way you harness fear to release creativity. Turn your insecurities to your advantage. Charge the monster head-on, and remember, while you may not see me, I am charging with you. You are not alone.
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Sarah Eriksson is a fantasy (grimdark) author from Sweden. She is seeking representation for her first novel, Forged in Crimson, while she works on the second book of her Silver & Crimson series. Other than spending time in her fantasy world she enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons and visiting historic places with her husband. She also writes short stories on Wattpad. You can follow her writing journey and storytelling on her Instagram or Wattpad.
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