For me, and I don’t think I’m alone, there’s a very primal reaction to anything scary or unknown. I want to throw my hands up, and push it back. Anything that threatens me or pushes me way out of my comfort zone (beyond something like, let’s try this spicy dish we haven’t had before, or drive through some back roads we haven’t explored yet) makes me want to put on all the brakes and go back to what I know is safe. It’s a tendency I’ve learned to fight over the years, because I don’t want to live by my fears.
In going through this journey over the past few years of embracing my writing, there have been so many firsts that have absolutely terrified me. Writing the first draft of my first complete manuscript. Attending my first peer critique meeting. Attending my first writing conference. Sharing my writing in both of those places for the first time. Raising my hand to ask a question at a writing workshop. Preparing to volunteer to participate in an activity at a workshop, and then shaking like a chihuahua in fear that I might actually get picked. Oh yeah. All so, so scary. I can remember each of those moments vividly. But the difference between me from years before and me now, is that I don’t push those things away. I beckon them close and embrace them enthusiastically. Why? Because it’s how I learn.
Embracing the experiences that challenge me and moving forward in spite of the fear is how I learn to be a better writer (friend, mom, wife, daughter, etc. etc.) It’s how I learn what kind of planning is most beneficial to me and where I need to focus my energies on bettering my craft. It’s how I write a better second and third draft of a manuscript, and how I approach a new project more efficiently. So when I say and have said in previous posts that I’m looking forward to my first rejections, I genuinely mean it. I know it will mean I’ve embraced a HUGE amount of fear in sharing my writing for the first time that way, and taking the first steps on that part of the journey to getting published. But I’ve got to tell you. I fought with a huge amount of fear and desire to push back and say no, simply by researching different agents. Just the thought of sharing my writing with people in the industry who publish and work with phenomenal writers, who know and love stories, and who I’d love to work with is TERRIFYING. But, every time that fear has come up, I’ve acknowledged my feelings, and moved forward.
How do you handle the fight or flight reaction in situations that push you out of your comfort zone? What situations within the journey of writing push you to that place?