There's that bit of writing advice: write what scares you.
It's nothing new and honestly, the advice is solid, but I think writers often get a little too focused on the macro fears than they do the actual issues that stifle.
Me, for instance, I'm scared of being my parents. A lot of my work reflects that and explores that fear thoroughly. As a matter of fact, I've explored it so often that I'm not entirely sure that I'm as afraid of it as I used to be. Maybe fascinated. Definitely still disgusted with those people. Afraid? More like worried. Not necessarily pants-shitting afraid.
So what do we do then? What happens when we process those broad issues with our art?
I began to realize there were fears creeping in the periphery. Things I would ignore; that were easy to ignore. There were moments where those fears crept in, but I did a good job avoiding them until I simply couldn't.
I couldn't be comfortable anymore. Comfortable to write the same stories. Comfortable to coast on what I created before. Comfortable to explore the same themes. See, fear, well, what we fear, can evolve. It can worsen, lessen, and change. My fears shifted. I wasn't afraid of content anymore, but I was afraid of risk. As a writer, it takes so long to find a rhythm, to find a sense of belonging, whether that is within your work or within creative circles. Complacency is a major risk, but it's a hell of a comfy security blanket.
And that complacency was strangling me. It was making me question whether I had reached my limits and whether it was worth taking a step outside of them. This led to a decision: do I go beyond writing what scares me by doing scares me or do I simply remain where I am?
Fear made me choose the latter for far longer than I care to admit, but now things have changed. I've realized that the only way out is through and that facing the fears I have :whether I'm good enough to try other genres, styles, subjects or good enough to leave the work I've created in the past fully behind, and take the risk of failing again. I've often joked about being a professional failure and while it's important to remember that writing is littered with failure with brief moments of triumph, it's super easy to avoid the failures that are super obvious.
So instead, I've mustered the nut to jump head first into those new patches of failure.
I am writing while scared. I can't pretend it feels great all the time. I can't even pretend it will be worth it, but I do know I'm somehow happier, more passionate about the work I'm putting together. I'm more open to collaboration and to exploring themes/elements I never believed I had to ability or right to explore.
Even afraid, I know this will be worth it and I know I'll find new things to fear. But when that time comes, I believe I'll be more ready to tackle those fears than I've ever been.
So yes, write what you fear, but remember to write scared as well.