Therese here. Today’s guest is Krissy Brady, who’s here to introduce us to a book that, to me, sounds like the secret every writer needs to know–Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields. Recently, Krissy talked up the book on the WU Facebook forum, and it made me want to hear more; I thought you might like to hear more too. I’m so glad she accepted the invitation to drop by today with this review. Enjoy!
How to Use Uncertainty to Fuel Your Writing
There are so many books available to help us become better writers: books on improving our craft, increasing productivity, and establishing our identity as a writer. The ones I love most are the books that seem to come into our lives as if they are meant to. Such was the case for me when I learned of Jonathan Fields’ book Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance.
There is nothing certain about becoming a full-time writer; Fields calls this “living in the question.” Especially in the beginning, when you’re just starting to send out queries, and you’re just starting your WIP, the old ways in which you ran your life become obsolete. You need to discover ways to integrate your writing into your life, while leaning into your fears and using them as fuel for your creativity. Fields’ book will help you accomplish this in a profound way.
Here are just some of the points I found especially moving:
- Uncertainty is a necessary tool in the creative process. The only way to create something where everything is certain, and you have all the answers in front of you, is if you create something that has already been established , which means you’re not really creating at all. Creativity and uncertainty go hand-in-hand when creating something worthwhile; it is the ultimate sign that what you are doing is unique, and it matters.
- In creating “certainty anchors,” we can harness our fear and focus on our creative genius. Certainty anchors include things like creating rituals that add a sense of reliability to our day, so no matter how many risks we take while writing, our rituals and routines will always be there. Fields includes examples of certainty anchors used by successful creative people, such as novelist CJ Lyons, who has “taken most of her mundane tasks, from laundry to lunch, and dropped them into a routine that hasn’t been altered in years.”
- Writing in creative bursts versus the standard, 8-hour workday we’re used to, will help us to achieve more in less time. When Tony Schwartz wrote his book, Be Excellent at Anything, he discovered that our brains become easily tired, and we need to take breaks in order to refuel. If we don’t refuel, we don’t work at our highest capacity, and spend more hours in our office accomplishing less. When working on projects that require heavy thinking and focus, we deplete our prefrontal cortex, so Fields suggests we work in creative bursts instead. For example, writing for 90 minutes, then taking a break to refuel before our next burst, allowing our mind a recovery period, ensuring we consistently produce our highest level of writing.
- Using a growth mindset to reach our writing goals will bring our creativity to the next level. If we use a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset, we will stop trying to reach our goals in a straight line—this will alleviate the feelings of frustration when our day doesn’t go exactly as planned, and we’ll be able to absorb everything we learn along the way—we’ll invite criticism instead of fear it. We’ll want to accomplish our writing goals at our highest caliber, instead of rushing to accomplish them in an attempt to create a certainty that doesn’t exist.
Uncertainty is written in a conversational, inviting style that Fields has perfected. Each chapter will bring a whole new epiphany to improve your creative process—your writing career won’t know what hit it.
Krissy Brady is a freelance writer located in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada. She is a blogger dedicated to keeping the passion for writing alive, and is currently working on her first novel, poetry collection and screenplay. To learn more and keep in touch with Krissy, visit her blog, and follow her through RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for the latest writing-related information.