I’ve heard a lot of my friends say they’re feeling scared recently. Scared of losing their jobs, scared of saying the wrong thing, scared of never achieving their dreams. I express myself through writing and have found that I can isolate and transform my fears when I journal, write fiction, or help others through writing.
Here are 10 reasons writing helps eliminate fear and bolsters bravery. I hope one or some of them can work for you. If you don’t need any help in the bravery department, maybe you could pass this along to a friend. As always, I accept that my opinions are not for everyone. Bravery is noble but I in no way wish to offend or condemn those who are not brave.
#1 – A daily journal can help you figure out what’s important enough to be brave for.
It’s all fine and well to aspire to be brave, but why? I want to be brave for the people and things I love: family, community, education, the environment.
If you take the time to journal daily, or even once in awhile, you’ll probably be able to look back over your musings and clearly see what matters to you jumping off the page. Once you know, picture those things when you find yourself in moments requiring bravery. If your actions are in line with your values and support the things you love, your bravery will be more likely to bubble up.
#2 – Making lists can turn scary, intangible obstacles into real goals.
Sometimes the obstacles in the way of our bravery, like fear of being judged, fear of losing, fear of the unknown, etc. manifest in our thoughts as foggy, unexplained anxiety. To combat the paralysis big decisions and projects can create, make a list of the things that you want to accomplish and then write out the obstacles.
For example, if you want to become a rock star, some of your obstacles might be forming a band, money to travel, and stage fright. Under each obstacle, write down some ideas of how you could power through, over, under, or around the obstacle. Following the same example above, under ‘forming a band’ you could write down some action steps, like: post an ad on Craigslist, post an ad on social media and go to local venues for live music. Smaller actionable goals also help you realize your own momentum and completing them gives you a boost.
Show your lists to someone you trust to see if they can come up with even more ways to turn your fears into actions.
#3 – Journaling can help you relate to yourself differently.
When you take the time to write down the important things happening in your life, you might start to see yourself as the writer of your own story, which you are, rather than a passive actor. Bravery can seem abstract, but it’s really about separating yourself from your fears in a single moment. When your journal, you can see those moments more clearly.
Another tip: write what you would have said or done if you’d been braver, as well as what you did. See the words on the page. Picture yourself saying them. Picture yourself as the character in the story you want to be. Over time, you just might become them.
Journaling also contributes to your mental health, so this is a tip to remember!
#4 – Creating characters involves sussing out their values, conflicts, and motivations. It can help you to learn yours.
If journaling isn’t up your alley, try writing fiction! It’s like playing make-believe and dress-up except better. Your characters can be as brave as you can imagine but for their bravery to seem real they’ll need real motivations, values, and obstacles of their own. Once you’ve created a few characters, compare and contrast them with yourself. Get to know yourself. Really dig deep, and you might just uncover some bravery under there.
#5 – Writing plot can make you a risk taker.
Write down a one-page synopsis of the “plot” that is your life. Then write the ideal plot for your life.
Thinking about your life as the plot of a book might open up your brain to possibilities outside of the most common, practical, or simple. When you have new roads to go down, you might find yourself more willing to take risks to see where they lead.
#6 – Writing will give your fears a place to live.
The opposite of courage is cowardice if you believe The Wizard of Oz. Rather than letting your fears live inside you, let them live on the page. Write them down and then commit to yourself that you’ll leave them there. When you feel scared instead of brave, imagine your fear back inside your journal or computer. You don’t have to carry it. Give it another place to live and fill the empty space with books, instead!
#7 – Writing dialogue forces you to imagine all the different things a person can say.
Real life is hard. The conversations you have with people exist inside the structures imposed by our society and the institutions you’re a part of. If you’re a female at work, for example, the things you feel comfortable saying are probably more limited than a man at a pub.
Try writing dialogue that isn’t restricted. Be as honest or outrageous as you can stand. How does it feel? What would be the consequences for talking like that in the different areas of your life?
#8 – Some people, especially women, minimize their authority. Writing about a non-fictional topic can help demonstrate expertise.
I know a lot of people who are afraid to own their knowledge and experience. If you’re one of those people, writing about what you know can help you to realize what your strengths are. Hopefully, when you see them in writing, you’ll become brave enough to share them with others.
Find something in your life you feel adept at. It could be anything from making scrambled eggs to utilizing the Google platform for your small business. Then write a how-to guide or workflow. When you’re done, consider sharing it! I guarantee there are people in the world who know less than you and would love to hear your unique way of explaining it.
#9 – Forums are sometimes safe spaces for interacting through writing.
It can be easier to feel brave behind a computer screen than in person. If you start behind the computer, use it as a stepping stone to more acts of courage in other areas of your life. Some people abuse the anonymity of the internet and I’m not suggesting you do that. Rather, own everything you write online just like you would in person.
#10 – Sharing your creations can cause feelings of temporary bravery.
Sharing what you write with people (not your dog) is scary. Take it from me, who waited 20 years to share anything substantial online. Whether you journal, write a political essay, describe an event in your life, respond to a writing prompt, or write a poem, share it. Share it with your family or somebody at work. Share it on social media or on a forum. By sharing your work, something you created from thin air, you are opening yourself up to criticism, accolades, rejection, and acceptance. It requires courage and once you’ve done it you’ll be one step closer to another act of bravery!
If you’re looking for a coach, editor, reviewer, content creator or just a new friend, please reach out!