Coach Marla Beck

I Get Scared, Too. (On boldness, fear and finishing your book)

by Marla Beck

in Uncategorized

May I make a confession?  As I shared with you last week, in just two days I’ll be taking off on a 3.5-week road trip with my family, winding our way through the American West.

Of course, I’m excited.  But the truth is:  I’m also feeling scared.

I find this experience perplexing.  After all, adventure isn’t new to me.

In 1992, after overcoming Hodgkin lymphoma twice in my twenties, a friend and I celebrated my newfound health with a 3-month trip around North America.  We left DC, drove across the Trans-Canadian Highway, down the U.S. Pacific coast and deep into the high plains of Mexico, where my father worked at the time.  After a long visit in Mexico, we drove up the Eastern seaboard to return to D.C.  (The trip was quite inspiring, and I unpacked 90 rolls of exposed film back home!)

Not all the boldness in my life has been travel-related.  I finished my grad school creative writing thesis completely and on-deadline (and any writer or academic can appreciate the courage it takes to fully complete a piece they’ve started).  Last year I pulled together a sixty-minute set of music, performing my favorite original and cover songs live to a full house of friends in a legendary bar in Sausalito.

This is why my pre-travel fears right now seem kind of silly.  What can be so threatening about a three-week car trip with two people I love very much?

The other night though, I heard the answers loud and clear. I was laying awake in bed with a laundry list of unwanted thoughts tumbling round and round in my mind…

…”We’re going to drive for hours.”

…”We’re going to be smushed together in close quarters week after week, moving from a small car to a small tent and an occasional hotel room, then back again.”

…”We’ll be away from our routines – me, without my solitude, my exercise mat, my community.”

And, the big one:

…”I’ve married my opposite. My husband hates to plan!”

What to do with all this fear?

  • I could ignore how I’m feeling or attempt to dismiss my fears as “irrelevant and unnecessary.”

  • I could confront my fears with logic, assuring myself that rest stops abound, the great outdoors is roomy, I can always get up early to meditate and maybe — just maybe, my husband might have a good point, too.

I’ll choose logic… but I intend to blend it with a strong dash of truth.

Because the truth is this:

Apprehension is normal.  These fears are a good sign that I’m on the right track – pursuing a goal that truly MATTERS.

(After all, you don’t keep yourself up at night when you’re working towards goals you don’t really care about. You don’t allow yourself to gnaw on meaty bones of fear, either.)

I’m sure you’ve experienced occasional bouts of fear.  Fear, self-doubt, anxiety – all these feelings are a typical part of the writing experience.

Every day, I talk to writers about how challenging and scary it can be to FINISH a book that matters.

Their stay-up-at-night thoughts sound something like this…

…”What if I’m no good?”

…”What if they don’t like my work?”

…”What if it’s obvious to everyone but me that my manuscript is not really DONE?”

These doubts are all variations of the very same theme, “What if I fail?”

(Not exactly rocket fuel for your success, wouldn’t you agree?)

To finally allow yourself to COMPLETE the writing projects you start, I suggest you try this.

Begin today to glimpse your future, and ask yourself:  “Who will I be when I finally finish my book?”

THAT is a question worth considering.

And THAT, my friend, is a person worth becoming.

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