Fear is the Mind-Killer

Dune by Frank Herbert

I found my “2017 New Year Credo” hiding in an old science fiction novel. It startled me last week like a stray cat on my doorstep, and now I’ve decided to take it in and make it mine.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

-From the novel Dune by Frank Herbert

Every time I publish something into the universe, I score a victory in the creative arena. Fear is the six-armed ogre who obliterates me by freezing me into inaction.

If I say, “I’ll create tomorrow,” then I lose. If I say, “I’ll improve my skills before I publish,” then I lose. Choosing not to enter the contest is the most popular way to lose. But I know what I’m capable of. And I know that all of my scary excuses are really just white bedsheets with eye holes cut in ’em.

There’s only one way to win in the creative arena. It’s time-tested, it’s simple, and it’s solid as a cinder block: Call it good. Publish it. Move on to the next.

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How to Fight Fear: Monday, June 29th

There’s only so much you can say about writing. I feel silly talking on and on about it. There’s only one rule when it comes to the game of writing – one rule, one revelation, one credo – which is, to get better you have to keep writing. Write every day. A little bit more and a little bit more.

It’s not complicated. Like all profound truths it’s shockingly simple. But “simple” does not equate to “easy”.

When talking about artists and creatives, I often hear this topic brought up:

People are afraid to make the big leap toward being an artist because the waterfall rush of fear and insecurity is so goddamn overpowering. The roar of doubt is deafening. Right when you’re about to begin a project, (write the first word, record the first video, sing the first note) – that’s when the doubt hits you like a wrecking ball. And then you start to back-pedal:

“What if I give it my all and I still fail… what then?”

“What if people laugh at me?”

“There are so many experts out there, how can I ever hope to compete?”

“I don’t have time for this. I need to buckle down and provide for my family.”

There is no easy response to these fears. If you finally do come out of the closet and call yourself an artist, you’ll have to grow some tough skin. Your friends won’t understand. You’ll make new friends who do understand. Even you won’t understand. The risk is greater than it was before, the risk of failure hangs over your head. Therefore the potential reward is infinitely greater. You’ve created a thrilling twist in the plot scheme of your life. Now people are watching, interested, glued to their seats, awaiting the outcome.

Your excuses are lame. Every excuse you can make has already been overcome by somebody in your exact same position. The choice is yours and yours alone. That’s the brilliant and equally scary part about all of this.

I know it sounds a little “out there”.

Writing for me is a daily exercise in pushing myself “out there,” instead of remaining down here in my comfy, insulated little world.

I’m the worst of all offenders and doubters and procrastinators. The only reason to keep these writing blogs going is to keep trying to talk some sense into myself.

But I believe with my whole heart that YOU are powerful and beautiful and limitless. I believe that I am too. That’s what we have in common. And we have to keep creating. Really there is no other option. There is only the next day, the next project, the next step forward. There is only right now and what you choose to do with it.