Long before I was publishing articles for the world to read, I wrote in a private document. I did this for more than a year. There were a variety of reasons and excuses that I used to rationalize why I wasn’t sharing my writing with others, but in many ways it boiled down to fear.
Here's what I didn't realize at the time: fear isn’t something that must be avoided. It is not an indicator that you’re doing things wrong. Fear is simply a cost that all artists have to pay on the way to doing meaningful work.
Obviously, not everything that is thought or written or created needs to be shared. In our age, where everyone has a voice and a platform, there is a lot of noise created.
However, if you have a story inside of you, I think you should share it. If you have an idea that you’d like to create, I think you should build it. If you have a dream that would make the world a slightly better place, then I think it’s your responsibility to deliver it to the rest of us. But it won’t be easy. All artists deal with fears, self-doubts, questions, and a roller coaster ride of emotions.
With that in mind, here are six passages from famous authors, actors, and artists on how to overcome fear and unleash your creativity.
Fear Tells Us What We Have to Do
steven pressfield on how to overcome fear
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.”
–Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
In the beginning, it is more important to start than it is to succeed. It is only through starting that we reveal the opportunity for growth.
seth godin on how to overcome fear
“What we need to do is say, “What’s the smallest, tiniest thing that I can master and what’s the scariest thing I can do in front of the smallest number of people that can teach me how to dance with the fear?” Once we get good at that, we just realize that it’s not fatal. And it’s not intellectually realize – we’ve lived something that wasn’t fatal. And that idea is what’s so key — because then you can do it a little bit more.”
–Seth Godin (full interview)
Mental toughness is a skill and like any skill it can be developed. Learning how to overcome fear is just like building a new habit. Start small and increase slowly.
Run to the Roar
tina essmaker on how to overcome fear
“When you are thinking about doing something and it feels scary, when it feels like this big lion is waiting at the finish line and he’s roaring and he’s ferocious and he’s going to tear you apart… you should just run toward that lion anyway. Run to the roar.”
–Tina Essmaker (full interview)
It’s not your job to tell yourself no. It’s not your job to reject yourself or grade yourself or debate the value or worthiness of your ideas. Your job is to create. Your job is to share. Your job is to overcome fear and run the race.