I have to be honest, as a writer, there isn’t much more frightening in this world than the blank page.
Oh sure, there are probably some large animals I wouldn’t want to run into and there are people I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley I suppose. Then again, I’m not sure why I would find myself in a dark alley anyway, but I guess that’s a different thing.
Oh … and bugs. I hate bugs. You know how the farther south you get on the Earth to bigger the bugs get? Yeah, that’s not for me. I’d rather move further north and need a shotgun to keep bears and wolves away than to move further south and have to deal with giant bugs.
No thank you, sir.
Anyway, staring at a blank page is right up there with those things. Whether it’s because I have no ideas and need to write something in a hurry or I have so many ideas that I can’t choose what to write about, the fear still remains.
What do I write about? What do I put down on that page first? I personally have a tendency to want it to be something profound or life changing. Like it’s not good enough if the first sentence is just normal. Don’t I have to have a topic before I start writing?
These and other questions flood my mind like the river that Arwen causes to swell and sweep away the Black Riders in The Fellowship of the Ring. Which only makes it harder to concentrate and actually get any writing done. The more I think about it, the more questions I have, the less actual writing I do, which just leads to more questions. It’s a vicious circle. The fear is very real.
You may not be a writer so maybe this particular fear isn’t your fear. But if you’re honest with yourself you have your fear too. Anytime you start a project or cook a new dish, it’s there. When you pull out that pencil to start drawing or make that first measurement on that piece of wood for that shed you’re going to build, it’s standing right there with you.
What I’ve learned in my time in life is that if you can name your fear then that fear has less of a hold on you. The more you recognize “oh, that’s just that fear named … “ the more you’ll know what to do when you see it. The last time you felt that fear you did “this” to defeat it. That means you can probably do that same thing (or something like it) this time and beat it again. Over time you learn your fears and how to handle them. It doesn’t mean that they don’t scare you. It just means that you get to be in charge and you can choose to dump that fear where it belongs.
It all starts with giving your fear a name.
In my case, I call this particular fear “The fear of the blank page.” For our purposes here we’ll give it a more generic, overarching name. We’ll call it “The fear of the new.”
So now that we’ve named it, it is no longer a foreign thing to us. We know that every time we start our new thing it will show up just begging to be a part. It can no longer sneak up on you. You’ll see it coming from a mile away.
The next time it comes around and you start to think “What if I screw this up?”, or “What if I fail?”, you can stop and say “I know you. You are the fear of the new. You don’t belong here. Get out.”, and then get to work. Because there is no better way to get rid of your fear than to take action on the thing you want to do.
Name your fear, and it becomes not so scary after all.
Oh, I almost forgot about dragons. As fantastical as they are, if dragons were real, they would scare me to death.