Who knows more about high flying than Nik Wallenda, King of the High Wire? He’s one of the seven-generation Flying Wallenda Family and holds seven world records for his feats, which include walking a tight rope over the Grand Canyon without a net. Barry Farber, bestselling author of 12 books (www.barryfarber.com), did an interview with Nik about one of the biggest obstacles to achievement that we all face: fear. Nik’s approach to handling it is one we can fruitfully apply to our writing:
Reframe your fear: “There is a very close connection between fear and respect in my opinion….What a lot of people call fear, I call respect…I don’t fear heights, I respect heights. I realize there’s definitely a risk there, but I also know with the right training, preparation, skills, and ability, I can overcome the fear.”
Disarm your fears: “Fear is very debilitating; it takes the life out of you, no matter what you’re facing. The key is to be willing to face your fears, respect your fears, and know that you’ll make it through….My great grandfather taught me to never give up. (If) you pursue your goal and you’re persistent about it, you’ll reach it no matter what the challenge.
Stay positive: “The most successful people in the world are risk takers. Risk takers are also the most confident people. It’s all about the mentality of how you go into a situation in your life….Your attitude controls your thoughts, you emotions, and the level of your success. I’ve had many doors closed in my face but had to keep a positive attitude during the process. I look at the end goal and try not to focus on everything in between.”
Prepare Relentlessly: “Preparation is the key element leading up to the event….Respect for the event means that you prepare to control the fear, maintain a positive attitude, train until there is no thinking, and never, ever give up. ”
What a refreshing approach: Approach your fear with respect. Respecting your fear means studying your craft: training and preparing so that you diminish the risks you face. Preparation creates the confidence that will equip you to work through whatever obstacles you face.
So often, we let fear stop us because it seems bigger than we are, but as my beloved mom, Dorothy, once counseled me, “Be bigger than your fears.” When we approach whatever we’re afraid of with respect, channel that respect into training and preparation, and move forward persistently and with confidence — we become smart, successful risk takers. OK. Whether it’s tackling a big book or story, getting our work out in the world, facing rejection, or wrestling with our words on the page, let’s take inspiration from the King of the High Wire. Let’s be high fliers — and write on!