I attended some really great writing workshops at the Tucson Festival of Books this past weekend. One of the main themes to come out across panels was how fear holds us back.
I’m often afraid.
I haven’t posted on this blog for two weeks not for lack of content or lack of time but because I worry about making things just right before I post them. I worry about saying something that will come across as unintelligent or controversial. I worry about saying something that will come back to haunt me years later. I worry that something I post will go viral. I worry that no one cares at all about what I’m writing.
I worry. But I’ve found that the best way of addressing my fears is often to just do the thing I’m afraid of.
So I’m just going to do it. That is, I’m going to reflect on the importance of just doing it improv and writing. The principle isn’t complicated although it can be difficult to implement.
In improv, if you find yourself talking about doing something in a scene, just do it. For example, if you start planning a party, fast forward to the party. The audience would rather see someone jump out of a cake than hear you talk about someone jumping out of a cake. Action!
In writing, I’ve come across this when authors are plotting something their characters will do. For example, in a lead up to a bank robbery, the characters might discuss how they are going to carry out the robbery. My inclination is that it is better to move most of this detail to section where you show the actual bank robbery unless the conversation highlights some important character traits. Again, action!
In both of these cases, the hesitation to take action is rooted in fear. Can I really jump into this pretend shark tank on stage? Can I really write this scene where the bank robbers’ plans get foiled? Fear holds us back from committing to our choices.
So I’ve just done it, but I’m still a little afraid. What’s fear holding you back from?