Fear is the Mind Killer

Hi everybody!

Man, it has been crazy times lately. Let's see, in the last few weeks my wife and I finally fled NYC after 6 years for a little small town livin' in NY's Hudson Valley, I left a long time job, I took part in the awesome Teen Author Festival, The Eleventh Plague hit a bestseller list ( ! ) and I started a new book.


Maybe it sounds strange but starting the new book felt like the biggest thing and in a lot of ways the toughest. I've been writing all this time in the sense that I've been editing Magisterium but today was the first day in, man, months I think, that I wrote something new. Sure, maybe part of that is business but not all, not really.

Mostly I think it was fear.

I'm constantly struck by how much of what gets in our way as writers is fear based. Writer's block? It's fear. You want so badly to write something "good" that the terror that you won't, or can't, paralyses. Starting something new is the same way. Actually opening a new word doc (or whatever) titling it and writing that very first line can be more than a little scary. Why? I think writing that first line is like making a promise to yourself and the fear is that it's a promise you can't keep. I mean we can't fail if we never start, right?

The thing I keep trying to remind myself is that I will fail, I'll fail alot, but with enough time and work it'll get there. Right now all I have to do is stay focused and have fun making a story unfold. The rest will come.

What about you all? Does fear hold you back from starting something new? From editing? How do you handle it?

Also, 2 points for guessing the reference in this post title...

(Oh and FYI, my first line, the one for this new book that will be changed a million times most likely was..."The first thing I noticed when I woke up was that my arm was broken and I was chained to the bed." Hmm. Not bad I think...)

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Unknown said...

Sounds like you've been having some good times! Congrats on your move, hitting a bestseller list, and starting a new book!

Jacqueline Howett said...

I handle it by spending too much time online.

Congrats being on the bestseller's list.

Fear indeed! I guess it really does go hand in hand with being an author. We are all such a sensitive lot. But just knowing that, should make it a little easier!

Keep up the postive notions!

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

The title is actually the thing that brought me to the site today. It's from Dune. And it's partially how my husband decided to date me. (Long story.)

Procrastinating is the biggest result of my fear. I can find about a million other things to do instead of writing, whether it's on a new project or editing. I usually have to just buckle down and start for a few minutes. That gets me past the initial fear response.

Eric W. Trant said...

Dune, little mind-killer that brings about total obliteration. I will face my fear.

Or something like that, paraphrased. Genius line!

Nothing intimidates me more than the blank page and a blinking cursor.

So I kill them both with words. If the words are ugly, so be it, at least the fear is dead.

- Eric

Angie Smibert said...

You've been busy! Fear stops us from doing so many things.

And "Fear is the mind killer" is a Bene Gesserit saying from Dune, a book I probably read 4-5 times in high school.

Guilie Castillo said...

Congratulations on your success, Jeff! And great--great--post. Fear is definitely our biggest hurdle as authors. Fear of not writing well, of rejection, of non-validation, of failure... But--hey, it's the only way. We just need to get it over with, like you said, focus on having fun while letting the story unfold, and the rest will come. Loved it!