the other side

The Other Side of Fear

Fear is perhaps the greatest enemy of any artist. Real art requires risk. Vulnerability. Even sacrifice. That’s not to say that every time one creates art it’s a scary or painful experience. Hardly. It’s an energizing process, at least for me, but it is not without its frightening moments.

Furthermore, it would be an oversimplification to say that fear marks the dividing line between ‘real artists’ and hacks. (What defines a ‘real artist’, anyway?) There are a lot of factors. Talent, for example, certainly plays into it, as do both motive and message. That said, there are plenty of people out there who have the talent, the motive and the message to produce great works but fall short, crippled by their own fears.

Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear that what they perceive as their own talent others will label a delusion. And more deeply personal fears, too–for example, fear that one’s art might showcase your own inner workings at an uncomfortably intimate level.

All of those fears are three things:

  1. Totally valid.
  2. Damn near universal.
  3. Sure to keep you from your best work, if you let them.

Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Indeed.

It’s a new year. A fresh start. In 2015, resolve that you will not allow fear to hold you back. When you sit down to write, you will almost certainly hear that nagging voice that so often whispers doubt while you wrestle with words. You know the one. It’s raspy but inexplicably soothing at the same time. It tries to coax you into quitting. It tells you about all the other things you could be doing besides writing. It reminds you of every great author you’ve ever read and suggests, not unkindly, that it’s a pipe dream to even hope to produce anything at their level. It’s painfully logical, and surgically precise.

And it wants you to stop.

When you hear that voice, don’t ignore it–fucking decimate it. Meet your fears, push past them, write in spite of them, and revel in the freedom of living beyond them. Tell that voice to go to hell and to take all its logic and well-meaning concern with it.

You’re a writer. Get to it.


About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

4 Responses to the other side

  1. ” fear that one’s art might showcase your own inner workings at an uncomfortably intimate level.” That’s one that bothers A LOT of writers.
    GREAT post, Dex. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. But, but, but…I’m frightened. Oh, wait. I get it.

    Liked by 1 person

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