3 min read

Merlin Mann - Scared Shitless


You can be scared and still do it anyway. Regardless of whatever it is.

— Merlin Mann

Merlin Mann gave a talk at Webstock in Wellington, New Zealand in February that has been sweeping around the blogosphere in various ways. It was titled “Scared Shitless.” I first heard about it during his excellent podcast with Dan Benjamin, Back to Work, but couldn’t find the time to listen to it. I did today, and it’s a wonderful message that everyone should take in if they can afford the time (only 30 minutes long). Merlin’s talk is about fear, which has been coming up more and more for me. A part of it is that I have a feeling that I am attracting these ideas to help encourage me with my own ventures. It is scary not having a regular job and not knowing where your next cheque may come from or whether it will be enough. There have been plenty of times when I have been scared myself that I have highlighted a bit in previous posts. Here were my biggest fears that happened at the end of 2009, moving into 2010:

  • I quit a well-paying, well-liked job where I had been for 3.5 years.
  • I moved away from a community that I liked a lot and went to a place where I knew nothing.
  • I was about to become a father.

Having one of those things happen is scary enough. Having all three happen within a month of each other? That’s really fucking scary. I don’t want to focus on myself too much, mainly because I’m not in the mood to do so at this point. What I do want to write about is how fear and overcoming fear is turning into a big thing. Let’s call it what it is:

Fear is to the 2010’s what Passion was to the 2000’s.

Makes sense. Once you discover your passion, the next step is overcoming you fear of taking the next step. Boat loads of people are overcoming those fears recently and doing amazing work. If you don’t believe me, read through the archives of Ashley‘s series Fear, Exposed (the latest features Tricia Karp).

Those stories will help you realize that your fears are really nothing to be scared of. Everything can be solved and made better. As Merlin Mann said so brilliantly in his presentation, quoting Bob Parsons of GoDaddy, “They can’t eat you.” Of course, there are different kinds of fear. The one kind I see most often, and I do myself, is fear of the Publish button. Everyone tends to write something, hit Save Draft, and then never come back to it again. Or they will read something and trash it completely. Everyone wants to write epic shit. But that puts an extreme amount of pressure on you as a writer. Words flow better if they are written out right away. Lots of editing does not improve the quality of the piece (sometimes it does), but it does take away a lot of the human aspect of writing. It is one of the reasons why I despise people who re-write their blog posts to improve the SEO quality of them.

People should be writing for people, not machines and search engines.

Justin Williams wrote about publishing right away in his piece, Let the Fear Out. On a similar vein, Corbett Barr wrote about Do It Now, Do It Live. Corbett asks a great question, “Isn’t blogging supposed to be a flexible, creative, experimental way to connect with other people?”

I have always tried to be a bit more experimental in the subjects I cover here, how I write about it, and even try to push boundaries at times to see what happens.. Every time I log onto my WordPress Dashboard, I look up at the top-right and see a little form to QuickPress. How many of us actually use it, though? WordPress also has a bookmarklet to QuickPress a link. But I bet most of us don’t utilize it very often. I think I will try a bit of a 30 Day experiment for myself, and focus on writing short pieces using either one of those tools without any heavy editing and see what happens. No images, no videos, no linking.

Just words. Does that scare me? Of course, but I’ll do it. Does working as a freelancer scare me? It does, but I’m doing it. Does being a father scare me? Absolutely. But I’m still doing it.

There are a lot of fears to be conquered.

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