Category Archives: Alliance Theatre

Fear

I’m in Atlanta this weekend celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Alliance Theatre‘s Kendeda Competition, which means hanging out with as many other finalists and winners as were able to be present this weekend, seeing theatre, eating, having round tables about various topics, etc. And this afternoon, among many other discussions, we had an hour-long talk about Artistic Process. The thing that struck me most about the conversation was how quickly it shifted into a discussion about fear and about the different ways in which we all overcome our fears of: failure, not living up to expectations, our current projects not measuring up to our past ones, writing about places or people or wolds we have no “authority” to write about. 

And in the midst of this conversation, I thought “What a great way to conceive of process. Process is a way of channeling your fears into productive output.” So here are some of the thoughts that stuck with me in the aftermath of this discussion. I’ve tried to attribute the thoughts that I can remember coming from a single person.

1) Jacob Juntunen argued that writers should embrace the adrenaline that comes with fear. Let that adrenaline fuel the writing. As I let Jacob’s thought bounce around my head, I remembered acting and playing sports and how both actors and athletes get to use their adrenaline to fuel their performances. So why can’t writers? I often think that one thing my life lacks as a writer is an abundance of adrenaline, and one thing it doesn’t lack is fear. But maybe that’s because I’ve been conceiving of my fear in the wrong way. Next time I’m afraid of the blank page I should think “How wonderful it is be to excited about my work” and use that excitement to dive right in.

2) Madhuri Shekar quoted Shane Sakhrani as saying “Fear is just excitement without the breathe.” So next time I’m afraid to write I’ll breathe in to make that fear excitement.

3) Andrew Hinderaker said that “Fear indicates the potential to do something worthwhile.” He urged everyone to find collaborators whom we feel safe being afraid around.