Jacques Derrida talks of letting nothing intimidate him as he writes, but for me that has never been the case. Even today as I write this I have a mild fear about it’s reception.
As a writer I have dealt with fear throughout my writing career. (and still do) Now did I know it was fear at the time, no, but it manifested in a number of ways to overcompensate for it. For example for many years I did not send poems to the bigger journals, and convinced myself that they were lame academic institutions that didn’t speak to the people. (FEAR) Well, the truth is I didn’t want to face rejection because somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind a rejection of my work was a rejection of me. There were other times where I would not write anything new for months and convinced myself that the muse had not visited me during this barren spell, (FEAR) but the truth was I felt like there were more eyes on my writing and I feared that readers might not like my newer work.
Fear in itself is a perfectly natural response from the body, but as an artist it’s the elaborate cop-outs that fears cause that’s the problem. So how did I beat my fear and progress? Firstly I stopped judging everything I wrote before I actually wrote it. If I thought it wasn’t good then I didn’t show it. The practice of poetry was important to beating fear. Secondly I’d set a time to write everyday and stick to that time. If I didn’t feel inspired I’d use a form or a line from a poem I liked and started from there. Routine was strangely useful at combating my writing fears. Thirdly I made myself a mission. (Better words, better poems, better people, better communities, better world) As a poet, a mission helped me focus on the work and not my worry. Then I began to bone up on the craft of poetry. Being craft confident helped me to beat my writing and reading fears. Finally I became part of a writing community. My critical mind for my work was at best undependable, but when I got in with some other voices and opinions I trusted, it kept my fears and productivity in check. So think about how fear is holding you back and rip that fear out of your poetry writing and life.