An Open Letter to My Fears

You will always be here. But you don’t get to choose where I do or don’t go. What I do or don’t do.

I tried to bring you down. To crush you. To start running as fast as I could, so I could leave you behind.

It didn’t work.

It didn’t work because I didn’t know then what I know now — that fear is not something we “get over.”


It’s something we struggle with more, the more we try to run.

As writers, we live unpredictable, uncertain lives. Every day, we wake up to futures we can’t predict. Will we write today? Will we hear back about the status of that project? Will we succeed? Will we fail?

You try to convince me — all of us — that it’s not possible for a far-off dream to come true.

You’re wrong.

But I was wrong not to trust you on some things. Not to recognize that you will always be a part of me, no matter how much my confidence evolves. No matter how much I manage to see and do, no thanks to you.

You will always be here.

But you don’t get to choose where I do or don’t go. What I do or don’t do. Which stories I do or don’t write, which emails I do or don’t send. Which goals I achieve. Which I don’t.

I decide these things. Not you. Never again.

Which means that throughout the rest of my life, I’m going to fall short of my own and others’ expectations a lot. I’m going to disappoint people, and myself. I’m probably going to have some regrets. There will be moments I feel embarrassed. Things that, in retrospect, will have turned out to be mistakes.

But it also means I’m going to do a lot of things I enjoy. And I’m going to try new things. I’ll learn to let go of the people and things that are hurting me more than strengthening me.

I’ll have regrets, but fewer.

I’ll have bad memories, but plenty of good ones.

My whole life, you’ve convinced me that safe is best, that quiet is favorable, that hesitation is always optimal. And in some cases, these things are true. But not in all of them.

I am a writer. And that means I’m going to have to take more risks. Face more rejection. Feel like I’m doing all the wrong things, when in reality, I’ll be moving full speed ahead, sometimes veering off in the wrong direction, only so I can find the one where I’m supposed to go.

Fear is a part of creativity. Of living. In many ways, of thriving.

It’s not about getting rid of it.

Instead, we have to learn to gather courage to think, to create, to live even though it’s always with us.

At the very least, fear teaches us all to be brave.

And being brave will send us places we never thought we could go. As long as we remember that sometimes, fear also reminds us that we aren’t invincible. That we can’t do it all. That it’s OK to question, to worry, to consider alternate possibilities.

That’s how we get better at what we do. Being afraid to fail — so much so that we do everything we can, within reason, to succeed.

Fear is a normal part of the writing life. Here's how to deal.

All Writers Mess Up, Big Time

How to Get Over Your Fear of Criticism So You Can Be a Better Writer

We Learn Best When We're Afraid of Doing It Wrong.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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