Monday, January 4, 2016

Damn You, Fear

I didn't write enough over the holiday break. If you asked, I could produce an epic list of excuses - I was spending time with family, working on scripts for my writers' assistant job, cleaning out my inbox, staring at a fascinating, engrossing spot on the wall...

But I know my writer procrastination all comes down to fear. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, said it too:

Ain't it the truth. My fear in my writing relates to my life-long struggle with not feeling good enough - a struggle I know I've completely made up in my head. It translates to my writing with a feeling that I suck, I suck, I suck and I can't even face how bad my script is. Even in times when I don't think it's there, I'll often realize that it's always there.

There's a writer's mantra I've heard - ass in the chair. As in, "No excuses. Just sit down and write. Now."

I think it's time for my own writer's mantra - an affirmation that addresses the real reason I don't write enough - fear.

When I searched the Web for "mantra against fear," I discovered something called the Litany Against Fear. Apparently Frank Herbert used it in Dune:

That's a bit too long for me, even though it communicates an important sentiment. Fear isn't something to get rid of, rather something I need to acknowledge and conquer. It's always going to be there - the goal is to not let it hold me back.

A simple search on social media turns up a bunch of great quotes about facing fear:

I don't know what my perfect affirmation will be - I'll let you know when I find it. Until then, I'll keep you trying to write without letting my fear stop me. Perhaps it will be some version of this:

1 comment:

  1. I think there the reason that there's always another platitudinous exhortation against fear is that fear is in fact un-killable. Because there's something about fear that's rational, namely, the perception of the distance between us and what we want. And what we are as writers want is to make something great enough, that matters enough, to be treasured over time. As in treasured forever. A terrific ambition. As in terrifying. The distance, the disproportion, is overwhelming. Who can face it? For me, the answer is: Don't face it at all. Hide. Write in a bubble. Where all that exists is you. Your fixations. Your nerditude. Your wish-fulfillment. It doesn't matter if it's not perfect. Nothing is. It doesn't even matter if it's bullshit. All art is bullshit. Shakespeare made up words, for God's sake. Fear is shame before the impossibility of perfection, and that shame is madness, because perfection is impossible, an illusion from which to flee (the perfect is the enemy of the good, or the good enough). Philip Seymour Hoffman lived in constant fear that he would be outed as a fraud. A pretender. In other words, that he was full of shit, that he didn't know what he was doing. When none of us do. Even Breaking Bad didn't end all that well. There's nothing anyone has made that you can't call bullshit on in some way. So let's just make up crazy shit that amuses ourselves. Let's just be children and play. Even better, let's do it together. If anyone wants to join our game of make-believe, great. If not, fuck them.