Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guest Post: Is Fear Holding You Back?

Please welcome to the blog today Ava Jae, a YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy novelist who blogs at Writability.  I first met Ava when she guest posted at Lyn Midnight's fabulous blog on Six Things that Made Harry Potter Special to Me and loved her humor and writing so much that I started following her immediately.  She was one of the awesome bloggers in our awesome week of PotterChat back in July with her Top Five Harry Potter Moments, and I've learned quite a bit about the art and science of writing and blogging by following her wonderful Twitterfeed at @Ava_Jae.

A couple of things you should know about Ava are that she has a wicked sense of humor which is coupled with strong insight into what makes a story work.  Besides being a Harry Potter fan, she also seems to have an ability to think along the same lines I do.  Before I even posted Family Stories earlier this week, which confronted one of my fears of writing, she sent me this insightful article below sharing the same theme.

So, please, welcome Ava.  If you haven't yet, visit her blog, and enjoy her amazing talent.  Thanks Ava for sharing with us!

Starting any new venture is a terrifying experience, and beginning your journey as a writer is no different. The doubts set in the moment you even consider the idea—Are you really qualified to do that? No, that’s a terrible idea. You’re going to be awful. You’re not ready, maybe in a few years when you have more experience...

The funny thing about fear is that it’s really good at convincing us it knows best. If you’re a logical person like me, it’ll put up a sound argument that’d make an attorney proud. If you’re more emotional, it’ll attack your nerves and whisper doubts until you’re thoroughly convinced it's right.

For writers, it often begins with comparison. You see books on the shelves, articles in magazines, brilliant blog posts and think, I can’t do that. You see the charisma, the confidence on the page, the way the words just flow and marvel at their talent.

Here’s a little secret: what looks like talent, 9/10 times isn’t talent—it’s hard work; it’s hours, months, years of practice; it’s an unquenchable thirst to improve and a drive to succeed. But fear doesn’t want you to know that. Hard work is something you can do; the thirst to succeed is something you already have if you’re worried about your skill set, and a drive to succeed is something most people encounter in at least one aspect of their lives.

But talent. Talent is something you’re born with. You can’t fake talent. At least, that’s what fear wants you to believe.

Truth is talent can’t carry you to success. I won’t deny that some people start with a little more of a boost than others, but from there it takes perseverance and work and more work. But if you let your fear control you, if you allow the doubts to keep you from trying, you will never reach your dreams.

It’s a little hard to swallow, I know, but I hope it’ll motivate you to start. To push fear aside and begin that story you’ve always dreamed of, or that blog that you’ve been too nervous to launch, or whatever it is you’ve been too afraid to do.

Confession: I put off starting a blog for something like two years. Why? Because I was scared. Because I was convinced that I had nothing to say, that no one would want to read what I wrote anyway, that I’d be just another whisper in the clamor of the internet.

In short, I was afraid of failure. What I didn’t realize was that by not even trying, I was failing already. I allowed fear to hold me back.

I’m not going to pretend that I have some massively successful blog now, but in the short months that it’s been live (I launched in May) I’ve developed a nice community of readers and a steady flow of hits. What’s more is I’ve learned something about myself—I do have something to say. A lot to say, actually, that I never would have discovered if I continued to listen to the doubts.

Are you allowing fear to hold you back? Maybe it’s your first novel (or second, or third, or fifth for that matter). Maybe it’s a new blog, a guest posting opportunity or a hundred other new endeavors.

I challenge you to kick your fear to the curb and go for it. After all, you will never succeed if you are too afraid to risk failure.

Has fear ever held you back? How did you overcome it?

Ava Jae is a writer, Photoshop enthusiast and X-men geek. You can find her weekly musings on her blog Writability, follow her on Twitter or check out her Facebook page.