When it comes to horses, I have always been what’s known in the biz as a “timid rider.” Translation: I experienced fear in situations that other riders did not. But while working with Laura Daley and writing our book Riding Fear Free: Help for Fearful Riders and Their Teachers, I learned that fear is not always bad. Fear is the body’s way of keeping itself safe from danger. You should experience fear when you enter a potentially dangerous environment: like going into a dark alley at night or riding a horse on the side of a cliff. When you feel fear, your body is physically changing so that you are ready to act: to fight or to flee.
Fear becomes unhealthy when your reaction to an event or situation is out of balance. For example, you feel the same level of fear walking in the middle of a safe park as you would in a dark alley or your arena becomes as scary as a sheer cliff. The fear does not match your actual circumstances.
What has this got to do with writing?
I often blog about writing and publishing fear free, but that doesn’t mean all fear is bad. Logical, balanced fear keeps writers from publishing books that are not ready for readers to see. It motivates us to try our best to produce our best work possible.
I have written (or co-written) and published 5 books, 1 short story, and 1 collection, and I am afraid every time. But it’s a healthy fear. It motivates me to write the best book I can, to hire the best editors possible, to make the best covers I am able to create, and to keep working until I get it right. I write to please myself. I write what I want to read, but I also write to please readers. I want people to enjoy my books. I want readers to fall in love with my characters. If I didn’t want these things, then I would not publish my books. I’d just keep them for myself.
Sometimes fear is good, and if I ever stop being afraid, then I will stop writing.