Fear is an emotional response to threats and danger. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of pain. Psychologists John B. Watson, Robert Plutchik, and Paul Ekman have suggested that fear is one of a small set of basic or innate emotions. This set also includes such emotions as joy, sadness, and anger. Fear should be distinguished from the related emotional state of anxiety, which typically occurs without any external threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats which are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable. Worth noting is that fear always relates to future events, such as worsening of a situation, or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable.
New things are often scary.
We are afraid to venture from our safe places, afraid to fall, afraid to fail, and in some cases, afraid to succeed. Our reaction to that fear, whether it’s fight or flight, in a lot of ways stems from our upbringing. I come from a family that fostered a habit of exploration, at least a little bit. While no one crouched beside me, encouraging my six year old self to go explore, no one discouraged me either. I spent my youth scaling trees, exploring random paths, and otherwise going places that in retrospect I’m certain would have given my mom fits.
I don’t climb trees any more. If there’s one thing growing up has taught me is a healthy respect for gravity. But I do explore random paths and I’m certain that my mom would at least raise an eyebrow at the things I do.
But, even scarier than trees and unknown paths are the depths of our imagination. And sharing what our imagination creates can be downright paralyzing. I didn’t originally plan to do my Beginner’s Ball post on fear. I actually had planned to delve into perception a bit more. But lately it seems I hear the words “fear”, “frightened”, and “scared” from all quarters. And on other fronts, I’ve encountered the dark specters my own mind can conjure recently, and that, too, has seen me whisper, “I’m scared.”
Being an artist of any sort is a daunting prospect. Of course, we’re specifically discussing being a writer. And as such, pen name or no, you have to build a persona that has thick skin to deal with critics, you have to let rejections roll off your back, and you have brave the waters again and again. I’m so new to this process that I haven’t had those really sink in yet. I’m sharing my writing, but haven’t been through the submission and rejection process yet. I will, and soon, though, I’m sure.
So. We’re all afraid of falling. What do you do to conquer that? How do you work through the fears that plague the writing process? Do you find yourself afraid to write something in particular? A subject, theme, specific story lingering in the back of your mind? How do you brave them, the trials your own mind sets before you? If something specific haunts you, or has haunted you, have you come up with a plan of attack, or, if successful, how did you do it?