Recently, I’ve been thinking about fear and hesitation and how they’re not only a part of life, but a part of writing, too.
Fear wants us to think small, to feel that what we have to say isn’t worth it. It wants us to play safe, to stay still and stagnate. This is especially tempting when we experience setbacks, but that’s exactly when we need to move forward in faith.
For years now, I’ve written for a local magazine, and my first assignment for them was to interview the executive chef of a five-star resort in a nearby town. This guy graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in London, and worked at luxury restaurants around the world. As first assignments go, it was intimidating to say the least.
I drove with fear in the driver’s seat, expecting a serious and to-the-point expert, wondering how I’d ever be good enough to interview someone this accomplished. But he was relaxed, charming, and made me feel entirely welcome in his kitchen. I left, buoyed by the experience and ready to write.
A few years later, Steve Forbes, chairman of Forbes Media, came to a local college for their “Distinguished Business Lecture” series. My editor called me, in a pinch: seems the reporter who they would normally have sent was unavailable. Would I take the story?
Under normal circumstances, we’d review the angle the editor wanted, and I’d ride off into the sunset from there. In this case, the editor had a short deadline for other work, and didn’t have time to guide me. I’d have 15 minutes with Forbes, and needed to get as much out of him as I could.
I was on my own. With Steve Forbes. And no information to start with.
I spent the afternoon poring the internet, reading Forbes’s older speeches, writings, anything to give me a sense of his viewpoint and platform. It took hours, but I knew it was worth it.
Forbes’s talk was entertaining, informative, and I took notes as he spoke. Afterwards, I waited in a hall for my time to talk with him. I was ushered into a dimly lit room, where Forbes sat in an armchair. It reminded me of a scene from The Godfather, only he certainly wasn’t going to make me any offers I couldn’t refuse!!
Long story short, the interview went well, and I drove home in a much different mindset than my previous interview. I had been given a chance to shine, to use my talents the best way I could. And strangely enough, going into it, I knew it would be over in a flash, and I wanted to make the most of my opportunity.
Sometimes we forget this when we let fear sneak in. We have plenty of opportunities to shine – whether we write, paint, or take care of small children, the opportunity is ours to make the most of.