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Making Room for Fear

Last week I bought Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Gilbert is most famous for Eat, Pray, Love, but my favorite is her 2013 novel, The Signature of All Things.

I’m about halfway through Big Magic, and so far I am convinced she has written it just for me! I suspect a lot of writers will resonate with her message. I will discuss more in a future post, but I wanted to share the passage below first. In an early chapter called "The Road Trip," Gilbert acknowledges that if she wants creativity in her life, she also must make room for fear. She describes fear and creativity as conjoined twins, and says that killing off one may kill off the other. So before she embarks on any new project, she delivers a welcoming speech like this to her fear:

“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce a complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting—and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you're allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive." (p. 25-26)

I loved this when I read it, and it got me wondering what I would say to my own fear if I were to sit it down and give it a talking to. I see a chat coming in my journal this week. What would you like to say to your fear?

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