2 min read

13. Fear is expensive

I used to hoard story ideas for someday when I'd be a "good enough" writer.
13. Fear is expensive

You're reading The Ponder, and I'm Devin. Welcome! This is where I connect the dots between seemingly disparate ideas floating around in my head. Thank you for being here. I hope you stay awhile.


Hi friends, it is Wednesday evening and I just ate a white peach. I hope you find equally delicious treats in your life today. This week has been a difficult one. To think we wake up and do things and go to sleep and that just...keeps happening. A miracle and also ew, what? Thank goodness for the relief that a life isn't built in a day. And for peaches.

The dots

  • "Give it all, give it now." — Annie Dillard in The Writing Life
  • "When we talk about “good,” at least in my mind, I’ve been using that a short hand for “literary” or artful or fancy or whatever you want to call it. But there are so many definitions of “good” when it comes to books!" — Kate McKean in Agents and Books
  • "Don't worry about your nouns — what people call you — just think about the verbs you want to do. What is it that you want to do? What are your verbs?" Austin Kleon on the Call Paul podcast

How do they connect?

I used to hoard story ideas for someday when I'd be a "good enough" writer. The ideas would sit around in notebooks and my notes app and emails I sent to myself at 1 a.m.

Last year I read The Writing Life by Annie Dillard and took it as a personal mandate when she wrote: "Give it all, give it now." I could die tomorrow, I thought. If I didn't change course, this fear would cost me stories, and I didn't want that.

I'm a good enough writer to start today, I decided. We are good enough writers to start today.

Kate McKean wrote in a recent edition of her newsletter (Agents and Books): "When we talk about "good," at least in my mind, I've been using that as short hand for "literary" or artful or fancy or whatever you want to call it. But there are so many definitions of 'good' when it comes to books!" I'll add that there are so many definitions of 'good' when it comes to writers.

And to take it another step: I don't want to spend time gauging how 'good' a writer I am. I just want to write more.

On an episode of the podcast Call Paul, Austin Kleon said, "Don't worry about your nouns — what people call you — just think about the verbs you want to do. What is it that you want to do? What are your verbs?"

My original fear of ruining or squandering my ideas is a trick of the mind. It's not true: Writing begets ideas. This fear kept me focused on my nouns (Am I a good enough writer?) and made it easy to avoid writing. Hiding my ideas in a deep dark cave, only to be attempted when I reached a mythical level of readiness, isn't virtuous — it's another way in which fear is expensive.

What are you reading / listening to / watching / EATING? Please share in the comments & let's connect the dots.  <3 DK


The Ponder is free but not cheap. Please consider forwarding this to a friend or sharing it on your favorite platform.

Hire Me / Instagram / Twitter / Bookshop