Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘“The Courage to Write”

Monday Motivation: Transcending Fear

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Sometimes, the toughest thing to do as a writer is to get out of your own way.

As this is a Monday Motivation post — meaning I’m trying, deliberately, to give some inspiration to some writer somewhere who’s having trouble, and thinks he or she is the only one in the world who’s ever suffered this — I figured I’d talk about one of the biggest problems writers have: transcending fear.

“But Barb,” you say, “why write if it’s so hard to get past your fear of what’s going to come out?”

I’m not sure why I write, entirely, except that I need to do it. (Stories to tell and miles to go…all that.) However, because I want my writing to reflect as much “real life” angst and heartbreak and agony — along with love, compassion, and kindness, natch — I have to be willing to put everything I have, everything I am, onto the page. Without judgment, without second-guessing, without…I don’t know…Editor Voice getting in the way and saying, “You can’t do that.”

So there is some fear involved, with writing, if you do it right. You may not think about it much, at the time, but it’s still there, waiting for the moment to pounce.


We’re all bundles of ego and nerves, you see, and when you’re creating something new, it’s agonizing. Or exhilirating. Or nerve-racking. Or all of it at once.

And I’m not the only writer in the history of the world to think this, either. (Far from it.) Ralph Keyes thought so much about this idea, he wrote a book called THE COURAGE TO WRITE: How Writers Transcend Fear. In Keyes’ book, he discusses many different reasons as to why writers worry so much about what other people will think of them, their writing, their descriptions, their everything…and why, ultimately, you should listen to your own “inner voice” and throw all of that out, so you can get on with the job of writing.

Ultimately, Keyes’ point is that writers are gamblers by nature. We take risks, and we need to take them, because that is how we’re made. And one of those risks we take, every day we sit down to write, is in how what we write is going to be perceived.

It’s something I know, that fear. I push past it, because I have to do it; maybe it helps that unlike many of my fellow writers, I was trained as a performing musician, and thus have had to deal with my own nerves, and my own fears of failed performance in action, from early life onward.

But you, too, can get past your own fear. You can get out of your own way, and write…you can find a way to silence Editor Voice, at least for long enough to do what you need to do.

So, just for today, don’t be afraid of what comes out when you sit down to write. Give yourself room, and time, and watch the words flow out, no matter what they are.

That way, you get past your fear, and you do what you were born to do.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 28, 2016 at 6:13 am