writing past the fear

creative joy, 2012, trust your vision

As I’m writing my book on creativity and turning to some of my favorite sources for inspiration, I came across Ralph Keyes’s quote from Barbara Abercombie’s book A Year of Writing Dangerously.

“Finding the courage to write does not involve erasing or ‘conquering’ one’s fears. Working writers aren’t those who have eliminated their anxiety. They are the ones who keep scribbling while their hearts race and their stomach churns.”

I just love this. I love this because a highly successful writer is saying that he, too, like other writers, feels the fear.

I love this because as I’m writing this book, I am terrified. I am terrified that it’s not good enough. I am terrified that I am not good enough.

But I keep writing. I keep writing, with a racing heart and a churning stomach. I write despite the fear, which thankfully, helps it dissipate. Which helps to soften the rough edges of worry and what-ifs.

However, when the terror inevitably returns, I’ll return to this quote, and remember that I’m in good company.

P.S. I just came across this quote from Georgia O’Keeffe on a beautiful new-to-me blog. It couldn’t be any more perfect:

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”


used bookstore, Deland, 2013

I rarely judge a book by its cover. But I do judge a book by its first few lines.

Am I the only one? Do you, too, try to figure out if the first page has done its job of wooing you? Of enticing you?

Recently, I signed a contract to pen a book on creativity. (Holy crap, that’s a very surreal, scary, exciting thing to type.) As I prepare to create my own work, I’ve been turning to the books on my shelf to see how various authors have started their stories.

Here’s a super short list. (Unfortunately, most of my books are still in boxes since Brian and I moved into our new home. So it’s really more accurate to say that I turned to the books that are piled high on the floor and desk of my mother’s home office. Thanks, Mom!)

“Everything changed when the man I loved died from a sudden heart attack in the spring of 2005; in that single missing heartbeat I lost my life too.” ~ Susannah Conway, This I Know: Notes On Unraveling the Heart.

“This is what I know: Remarkable things emerge from the smallest, most ordinary circumstances–from taking note and then taking action.” ~ Christina Rosalie, A Field Guide to Now: Notes on Mindfulness and Life in the Present Tense.

“Every artist gets asked the question, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ The honest artist answers, ‘I steal them.’” ~ Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.

“The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

“I’ve heard it said that everything you need to know about life can be learned from watching baseball. I’m not what you’d call a sports fan, so I don’t know if this is true, but I do believe in a similar philosophy, which is that everything you need to know about life can be learned from a genuine and ongoing attempt to write.” ~ Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life.

“Nearly every day, poetry saves me. Some favorite line or surprising image will rescue my vagrant attention from the careening bandwagon of my thoughts and redirect it to the path of my soul. My mind quiets, my breath deepens, and I remember what matters most to me.” ~ Kim Rosen, Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words.

* to clarify, that’s not my mom’s home office. it’s a sweet used bookshop in Deland, Fl.