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Archive for January 27th, 2010



Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 by Bob Mayer
The Courage of Writers

Since my last blog post was about fear, I figured it was time to talk about courage.  First though, here is a list of fears writers have that I have compiled from the blog and from my Warrior Writer workshops:

The fears of writers:

Fear of failure

Fear of success

Fear of rejection

Fear of starting

Fear of finishing

Fear of revealing too much about ourselves

Fear of criticism

Fear of making the wrong decision

Fear of having hit one’s peak

Fear of making a mistake

Fear if not being good enough

Fear of the business

Fear of having regrets

To me, the last one is the worst.  Regrets are terrible things to have.  Yet often our fear brings about what we will regret.

What is COURAGE?

The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger with self-possession, confidence, and resolution,

The ability to do something that frightens one.

Strength in the face of pain or grief.

Ultimately, courage is acting in the face of fear.

To find my fears, I have to be honest with myself.  I have to rip away my denial.  I have found that some things I thought I was strong at, are actually hiding my greatest weaknesses.  This is because most fear is subconscious.

There are times when we use fear to try to ‘control’ our world.  If we are afraid of something, there is a part of us that thinks the fear keeps that bad thing from happening.  It’s crazy thinking, but almost everyone does it.  If I stay terrified throughout the flight, the plane won’t crash.  As if our fear had that power.

So how do I defeat fear with courage?

First, acknowledge my fears exist.  Then I try to find the true cause of my fears.

To exercise courage, I must act.  There are three steps to change:  Moment of enlightenment; decision; sustained action.  I used to think the last step was the hardest, but I’ve learned differently.  Looking at myself, I’ve learned that I am very good at sustained action—my main problem is making decisions.  So I have to take that into account when taking action.

Living with fear is ultimately worse than confronting it with courage.

Some things that can help you:  Put long-term goals ahead of short term goals.  This is especially important as a writer, because publishing is such a slow business.  Keep your eye on your goal while you struggle through each day.

Write not only what you know—maybe write what you are afraid to know.

Expand your comfort zone by venturing into your courage zone.  Every day try to do something that you dislike doing, but need to do.  Action is the only way to grow courage.  If you’re introverted, talk to a stranger every day.  If you’re a practical person, do something intuitive every day. Do the opposite of your Myers-Briggs character.

PICK ONE FLAW AND ONE POSITIVE ACT THAT WOULD CHALLENGE YOU TO FACE THAT BLIND SPOT, ACT IN THE FACE OF FEAR, AND ENTER YOUR COURAGE ZONE.

FOR THE NEXT WEEK, DO THIS ONE POSITIVE ACT EVERY DAY.  BY THE END OF THE WEEK, YOUR COMFORT ZONE WILL HAVE INCREASED.

In the army at Ranger school they teach the correct way to defeat an ambush if you are caught in one.  Your patrol is walking along a trail and suddenly you are fired upon from the right.  Your instinct is to jump in the convenient ditch to the left.  The problem is, if the ambush is set up correctly—that ditch is mined and you’ll die if you do that.  Your next instinct is to just hit the ground.  Except you’re in the kill zone and if you stay there, well, you’ll get killed.  The third thing you’ll want to do is run forward or back on the trail to get out of the kill zone.  Except, if the ambush is done right, the heaviest weapons are firing on either end of the kill zone.  And you’ll die.

The correct solution is the hardest choice because it requires courage:  you must turn right and assault into the ambushing force.  It is the only way to not only survive, but win.

Whatever your fears are, you must assault into them.