Finding the Zone and Punching Fear in the Face

Donald Miller

I grabbed a copy of Jon Acuff’s new book last week. It’s called Start and it’s about chasing your dreams and making things happen. It’s terrifically written and more than that, it’s super helpful. It’s also healthy, in a way, because psychologists have proven we are beings who need to be in motion to really be psychologically healthy. If you’ve not picked up a copy, make it one of your summer reads.

Anyway, one of the things Jon talks about is punching fear in the face. And one of the things I constantly deal with is fear. But it’s strange, because I really only fear sitting down to write my book. I don’t fear writing blogs and I don’t fear tweeting and I don’t fear mowing the lawn. I fear the work that matters. I fear the work over which I will be judged. I fear the work that, some day, I will be critiqued on Amazon and the New York Times. I fear, before I start, that I will fail.

*Photo by Wallula Junction, Creative Commons

In many ways, it’s a healthy fear. The work needs to be better. A book is not a blog entry. A book is serious business. Different writers see it differently. Seth Godin recommends publishing before a work is really done. I don’t. I say wait. World class writers who are remembered a century later do not rush their work. But even that is an excuse. It’s an excuse to give in to fear. Because the truth is a work is never done, and a writer is never ready to do it.

So here’s how I deal with the fear. I do exactly what Jon recommends. I punch fear in the face and sit down. It’s as exciting as going to the dentist. In fact, it’s worse. It’s like doing your own dental work.

But something remarkable happens when you pass through the fear. About every other time, you find the zone. The zone is that place where a book seems to write itself. It’s a wonderful and magical place. A story comes to you and your fingers can’t move fast enough to catch it. Sometimes you shed a few tears as you type. You’re so grateful you punched through the fear. You’re so grateful God seems to be giving you words.

So here’s my question for you, are you working through the fear? Are you punching it in the face? Are you finding your zone, your self, your voice?

What are you afraid of?

Jon, thanks for the inspiration. And thanks for working through the fear to write a book.

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is all about story. He helps people live a better story at creatingyourlifeplan.com and grow their business at storybrand.com. Follow Don on Twitter (@donaldmiller). To read more of his posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.