Fear is a Four Letter Word

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This is one of those times where I don’t think I have anything to say, but I still feel like writing anyway. I was once told by a writing teacher that even if you feel you have nothing to say, you should just start writing anyway.

His opinion, and I’ve often found this to be true, was that if you start and keep on going, eventually words will flow. The trick is to start.

Thinking about that now I really feel it applies to almost any endeavor. Simply put: If you don’t start, you’ll never finish.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the famous Wayne Gretsky quote where he says: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Again, I think that applies to most things in life.

Starting things, like a writing project, is often very difficult. But I don’t think it’s the act of starting that’s the problem. What we’re really talking about here is fear.

For a writer, that fear most often manifests along the lines of “What if it sucks?” or “What if nobody likes it?” or even “What if people are so enraged by what I write, they want to burn me in effigy?” Actually, that last one might not be so bad.

Well, nobody wants to get burned in effigy, of course, but writing something powerful enough and moving enough to get people that enraged could be kinda cool. Again, if you can avoid the whole being burned thing.

We all feel fear at one time or another and there’s always the potential that fear will drive us to do something or, more to the point, to not do something. But we can’t let it win. We can’t let it get to us.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Lawrence of Arabia. In the movie, T.E. Lawrence, played by the amazing Peter O’Toole, holds up a match and then extinguishes it with his thumb and forefinger, seemingly oblivious to the pain this must surely have caused him.

His fellow soldier, William Potter, then tries to do the same and as he does, he realizes just how painful it actually is. He exclaims that “It damn well hurts!”

Potter then askes Lawrence what the trick is. Lawrence replies that yes, of course it hurts.

The trick is not minding.

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