Thursday, May 12, 2016

Lost Advice Here Now

Zestful Blog Post #160

You must not fear death.

That sentence was cut from my book You’ve Got a Book in You: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams. My editor at Writer’s Digest Books made the cut; I suppose he thought it was over the top. It occurred in a chapter about writing freely and giving yourself permission to write poorly in order to get to the good stuff. Although I noticed the cut I didn’t object, because that piece of advice really needed a chunk of explanation, which I hadn’t put in, because I sensed it could have interrupted the flow of the chapter too much.

Of course fear generally is a toxic emotion. I don’t know of anyone who has ever said fear helped them achieve anything. Caution yes, intelligence yes. You don’t jump over a balcony instead of taking the stairs because you’re afraid; it’s because you know you’ll wake up in the ICU or the morgue.

When I counsel writers to be fearless, the counsel goes way beyond the practice of writing.

The fear of annihilation—death—is the chiefest of all human fears, and it of course drives much bad behavior. If I annihilate you first, maybe that will delay my own annihilation. But if we face life accepting that death will come sooner or later and go—OK, so what?—then we are truly free, and whatever we create will reflect that.

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  1. OTH, the fear of death can also drive crazy mad, creative, loving behavior.

    None of us get out of this 'game' alive.

    Best to grab all you can while you can.

  2. Facing down your own mortality is probably one of the most freeing things there is. It's amazing that all those other fears are not nearly as big and scary. My biggest one was fear of failure. That one, I have to admit, took more work than facing my own death. Truly.

  3. I get that, BJ. Nobody can cheat death, but it's like if you fail it's your fault. Even though many factors contribute to success/failure, including the way we label them.


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