Fear and Focus

Photoxpress_1687829We don't always think of fear and focus at the same time, but there's very good reason to pair them.

Focus.  It's what we all desire, what gets the writing done.  Because the words don't go on the page without it.

Fear.  It's often what keeps us from focusing.

The kinds of fears we writers and creative types deal with are the insidious ones.  They may very well be so insidious that we don't even recognize them as fears.  Instead, fears can masquerade as a lack of focus. Have you ever told yourself any of the following when it came time to write?

I don't need to work on the book today

–The kitchen floor needs washing.  I better do it now, instead of writing.

–I need to check my email.

–Writing is too hard, I'll look at Facebook instead

Perhaps some of the following fears are hiding behind this sudden desire to do something, anything, other than write:

Not knowing what to write

–Not knowing how to write

–Going deep

–Not being good enough

–Being too good

–Putting yourself and your words out in the world.

Interestingly, dealing with issues of focus takes immediate care of many, if not all, of these fears.  Why? Because choosing to focus is choosing to be in the moment.  Choosing fear is opting to be mired in the past or worry about the future.  You can't do either when you firmly in the present.

So herewith, some strategies for both fear and focus.

1.  Remember that you are enough and have enough for what you need in this present moment.  You have all the tools you need to write or create.

2.  Have a curiosity about life instead of assuming an air of knowing everything.  Be present to the amazement of life.

3.  Move before you feel ready.  Send that story out even though you know it's not perfect, commit to writing a novel even though you don't know how.  Such leaps keep our creative selves alive and are one antidote to fear.

4. Stand for yourself.  Take responsibility for yourself and your work.  You committed to writing, now do it.  For some weird reason this always helps me with my fears.

5.  Meditate.  Everyone recommends it for a reason.  It really does help.

7.  Develop a morning ritual and/or spiritual practice that grounds and centers you.

8.  Do ONE thing at a time.  Multi-tasking is death to focus.  My tried and true trick is to set a timer for 30 minutes and only write during that time period.

9.  Work hard, play hard.  Focus and concentrate.  Then take a break and have some fun! 

10.  Don't forget physical exercise.  Move your body in some way, whether you like to take walks, do yoga or Qi Gong, swim or ride bikes.  Sometimes we just need to wear the old brain out to get rid of our fears!

Do you have strategies to accomplish focus and banish fear?  Please share.

 Photo from Photoexpress.

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15 Comments on "Fear and Focus"

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10/25/2012 04:51

I like several of these: 2, 3, 9, 10. Banishing fear is difficult. In some ways I’d rather give in to it, but, even though I can put together a long list of reasons I’ll never realize my dream, something inside me won’t be still.

10/25/2012 06:48

Perfect advice for my day-off morning, Charlotte. Now, to get off the internet, focus on that book outline, and not be afraid to “take responsibility for myself and my work.” Thanks!

10/25/2012 08:37

J.D., I think fear is just part of being human.  But I find the best way to deal with it is to write.  That seems to be the best way to deal with just about anything, actually.

10/25/2012 08:39

So glad you are focusing on that book, Suzanne, it is such a good one.  And yay for having the day off to do it!

10/25/2012 09:11

Charlotte: As an Emotional Freedom coach I especially loved your article today. Fear is, like you said, residue from the past and make believe based on the past about what the future will bring. Neither of them are the truth of NOW, This moment that we are in. Now is really the only moment that we have. Jack Canfield, the co-author of the wildly successful Chicken Soup for the Soul series, says that the definition of fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. As you also said, fear comes in many disguises such as busyness, procrastination, being frozen into inaction, think… Read more »

10/25/2012 09:20

Yes, indeed, Gwen, when we are in fear, we are either in the past or the future.  And I always tell people if they get stuck and are not able to write, it is time to get help.  EFT is one of the best and simplest ways to be helped and you're a great practitioner of it!  Thanks for chiming in.

10/25/2012 11:09

Lately, I remind myself that I need to Try, Something is better than nothing, and my Journey is my journey. Of course, I just repeat Try Something Journey over and over until the fears go away. Each of us has our own ways.

10/25/2012 11:17

Love that mantra.  And yes, I'm relearning that simply trying is all we need to do to allay fear.  Thanks for sharing.

10/25/2012 14:06

That's a great suggestion, Patty!  I do meditate nearly every day but remembering to do it throughout the day is really helpful.  Thank you!

10/25/2012 15:30

Here’s my mantra: Charlotte’s #3 and 4, 3 and 4, 3 and 4….ooohm 😀 I’ve been finding as I have been writing on a more regular basis, there have been the odd times when I have experienced joy and excitement as well as being challenged to overcome the chronic, frequent angst, fear and lack of focus. Rather than anticipate and prepare myself to conquer the inevitable with trepidation and expecting to deal with a big struggle, I’m trying to approach my writing time more neutrally and even with positive expectations, by telling myself I’m showing up to have a chance… Read more »

Patty/Deep Artistry Studio
10/25/2012 13:24

Mindfulness meditation, in short 5-10 min periods! It’s hard to consistently keep up a practice but I’m getting better at it and it makes a huge difference with fear and focus. I find I need a calm, soothing voice in my ear to really do it. Then I look forward to it. There are some great free resources out there too; mp3’s that you can bookmark or download.

10/26/2012 13:15

This is so very good, Charlotte. I have such a hard time focusing sometimes and I really think it’s because I’m terrified to jump into a project because it’s HARD. Writing really is difficult – you have to keep track of character motivations and arcs and plot points and work in foreshadowing and so, so many other things.

10/26/2012 15:43

Ain't it the truth, Melissa.  Writing is hard.  I've seen so many people decide they want to be writers and then fall away from it because it's not for the faint-hearted.  And so yes, we do fear it.  And then we have one of those wonderful writing sessions…..



You really hit the nail on the head with this one. I’ve never linked fear and focus, but you are so right! It’s so obvious now that you mention it. This is precisely the encouragement I needed right now in this moment. Thank you!

10/27/2012 08:19

Thanks, Sandra.  I know, it took me awhile to link fear and focus, also, and then it came to me one day when I was having issues with focusing that it was because of fear.  Knowing this has made a big difference in my writing life.