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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Let’s Hope It’s a Good One

Happy New Year!

By Rosanne Bane

It’s presumptuous in the extreme for me to edit lyrics written by John Lennon, I know. But I’m going to do it anyway.

For several weeks, I’ve listened to a radio station that played non-stop Christmas music. So I’ve heard John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas” a lot. One line at the end of one verse always makes me cringe:

            “A very merry Christmas

            And a happy New Year

            Let’s hope it’s a good one

            Without any fear.”

No Fear, No Joy

Fear is, as Susan Jeffers points out in her classic Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, a sign that we are growing and expanding our comfort zone. If you never feel afraid, you’re stagnant. If you never feel any fear about what you’re writing, you’re not challenging yourself to go deep with the material or explore something new (new content, new genres, new POV, etc.). If you never feel any fear about sending your writing out into the world, you’re not exploring new markets and opportunities.

Jeffers observes that you can’t really evade fear. The more you try to avoid it, the more afraid you end up being. If you avoid your writing because you’re afraid (of not knowing what to write or how to start, being imperfect, making a fool of yourself, offending someone, getting rejected, etc.), you take up residence is Resistanceville.

Not only are you miserable because you’re not writing and you know in your heart of hearts that you want to write and need to write, every day you avoid writing, you get more afraid of returning to your writing. The longer you let fear push you from your heart’s desire, the more afraid you become.

Riding the Wave

Of course, too much fear is paralyzing. The trick is to find the place where you’re thrilled and exhilarated (two lovely synonyms for the right amount of fear) so that your creative cortex is engaged without sliding into full-blown terror that will trigger a limbic system takeover.

It’s the emotional equivalent of surfing – you’re right up on the edge of the wave without wiping out. Like surfing, you will, of course, wipe out from time to time. You will be afraid and step back from your writing. But any surfer will tell you that any number of wipeouts is better than sitting on the beach watching the waves go by. The trick is to keep coming back to your writing even when you’re afraid, especially when you’re afraid.

So with apologies to Mr. Lennon because I know it really doesn’t scan at all, here’s my wish for you:

            “A very merry Christmas

            And a happy New Year

            Let’s hope it’s a good one

            With just the right amount of fear.”

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2 Comments on “Let’s Hope It’s a Good One”

  1. rosannebane January 3, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    Great idea Michael!


  2. Michael Kelberer January 2, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    In one of my more enlightened moments in therapy, I told my guy I was going to spend the year “letting fear be my guide” – whenever a choice presented itself, I would go with the one I was most afraid of…Worked well when I let it 🙂


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