By Bryan Cohen
I can truly say that the major factor which allowed me to become a writer (about writing) was emotional control. Sure, hard working determination and a bit of elbow grease were quite important. Setting some lofty goals for myself and breaking them down into their component parts were also integral steps. But it was not until I curbed my fear and anger that I was able to become a full-fledged author.
As long as I have been creative, I have also been a scared-y cat. I was afraid to express my feelings growing up and I was afraid to try anything out of the ordinary. Blending in sure was a lot easier than getting made fun of. While in college I tested out a fake sense of confidence and swagger, but when the four years were up, I was right back to where I started. I began getting angry that I hadn’t yet become some confident, creative superstar. I was angry at my loved ones and angry at myself. Why? I’m still not exactly sure, but I think it had to do with a grand feeling of disappointment and action-crippling fear.
In an online exchange with author Alexandra Robbins, I learned to take a new perspective on fear. I’d always thought of fear as something negative. I assumed it was a cue from my brain that I should run away, and fast! Ms. Robbins taught me that instead of being afraid of fear, I should embrace it. I needed to rewire my system and do the things I feared because those were the challenges I had to face to feel satisfied. Little by little, through lots of patience and hope and lots of reading on the subject, I changed my fear into a beacon for potential future achievement.
The anger was a bit tougher to conquer. It required cutting through years of self-hatred, blaming others, and the locked-in belief that God or fate or chance had given me a raw deal early in life. Meditation and choosing my responses instead of immediately reacting negatively to circumstances helped. What brought it all into focus was the practice of happiness. In Marci Shimoff’s “Happy for No Reason,” a conversation between the author and a fellow writer revealed that the “pursuit of happiness” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence is not “chasing happiness” as we think it to be. “To pursue” in 1776 meant “to practice.” Happiness is a skill you improve from within, not some magical jewel you hope to stumble upon.
By cultivating this positive connotation of fear and my practice of happiness like a garden, I was able to finally control my emotions. This helped me to answer one of my true callings as a writer. Are fear and anger holding you back from something? A little fear rewiring and some happiness practice might be just the ticket to achieve your loft, exciting and enjoyable writing goals.
Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. Since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he has written four books (1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Sharpening the Pencil: Essays on Writing, Motivation, and Enjoying your Life, and Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job), several plays (Something from Nothing and Chekhov Kegstand: A Dorm Room Dramedy in Two Acts) and he was the head writer for an un-produced Web series (Covenant Coffee). His writing and motivation website Build Creative Writing Ideas has had over 100,000 visitors since it was founded in December 2008. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Follow Bryan on Twitter @buildcwideas.
Bryan Cohen is giving away 100 personalized writing prompts to one giveaway entrant chosen at random during the blog tour. Personalized prompts are story starters that cater specifically to a writer’s subject matter, strengths/weaknesses, etc. Cohen will create the prompts to cater exclusively to the winner. He is giving away free digital copies of his book The Writing Sampler to everybody who enters, which includes excerpts from each of his four books on writing. The book contains essays, writing prompts and tips and tricks to enhance your writing skills. In addition, for each of Cohen’s books that reach the Top 500 on Amazon during his blog tour, he will add a $50 Amazon gift card to the drawing (up to six $50 cards in total)!
To enter, simply post a comment to this blog post with your e-mail address.
Thank you to Bryan for this great guest post and giveaway!
Good luck to all entrants!