You must face your fear

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Bene Gesserit litany against fear

It happens to the best of us. You sit to write and something is wrong. Some voice is saying bad things to you. That thing? That voice? It’s name is fear. It’s telling you you can’t do it. You don’t how to write anymore, if you ever did. Whatever you try and write will be AWFUL. People unfortunate enough to have to read it will mock you and laugh in your face, and they will be right to do so. You don’t have anything to say and anything worth saying has already been said. Which means you are either irrelevant or unoriginal, whichever is worse. Every other person in the world capable of forming symbols with a pen on paper, or even just bashing their head against a keyboard, is better at writing than you are. Give up. Stop. Now. ABANDON ALL HOPE.

You must face your fear. Don’t get up from the desk. Don’t make a cup of coffee. Don’t start sharpening your pencil. ABSOLUTELY UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES CHECK YOUR EMAIL, TWITTER, FACEBOOK OR YOUR BLOG STATS. Face your fear. Sit with it. Listen to it. Say hello to it. “Hello fear. Nice of you to visit today. What can I do for you?” Give your fear a stroke. You’ll find it’s more scared than you are. And before you know it, the fear will turn in to something else. Often, although not always, the central idea of whatever you are trying to write.

Face your fear. And then write.


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

2 thoughts on “You must face your fear

  1. All power to your rally cry, Damien. The fear lives with us all. Not just writers either. I once worked with a concept designer with vast experience, who on a daily basis produced the most beautiful artwork you could imagine. One day I caught him staring at a blank page looking morose. I asked what was wrong. He said, ‘It’s alway the same before I start. I’m afraid I can’t draw any more.’


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