How Writing Helped Me Overcome My Fear of Flying

I’m afraid to fly. At first, I tried to ignore it. Then the panic attacks came. And there was this one time I accidentally grabbed my neighbor’s arm during turbulence, which was really embarrassing. But it all came to a head when I was waiting for a flight at the airport and felt like I was going to burst into tears right there at the gate that I knew I needed help.

I didn’t want to stop flying. I love traveling! But the fear of plummeting to the ground scared me, so I talked to my doctor and was given medicine to help me calm down. The problem is it made me really groggy. But hey, at least I could fly again.

Then I started writing Secrets in the Mist. Half of this book is about flying and one third is hang gliding. You know, flying with just a kite on your back. To write realistically about hang gliding, I started studying the sport. I read all the articles I could find, watched a lot of YouTube videos, and in the end spent over 10 hours immersing myself in the sky.

As I first imagined, then wrote each scene in Secrets in the Mist, something started to happen. I started to lose my fear of flying. It wasn’t the first time I tried to read the science behind flight to help me lose my fear of flying, but this time, I was doing it in my head. I was feeling the air and wind, tilting my glider, catching the air drafts, and not just understanding how to fly in my mind, but also with my heart.

I realized a plane couldn’t fall out of the sky just like my character couldn’t fall out of the sky. That an experienced flyer understood what to do in storms and sudden gusts of wind. And should the plane actually lose its engines, the pilot would help it glide to the ground the same way my gliders eased their way to a landing.

Not only that, by creating the exhilarating feelings my character felt when she was gliding began to seep into my psyche. I felt her joy and freedom, her lack of fear, and even more, how she felt more connected to God when it was just her, the wind, and the sky. I saw the beauty of flying through my character’s eyes.

I can fly now. Without medication. I actually enjoy the takeoffs and the feeling of the plane gliding through the air. Will I try hang gliding someday? Probably not, I still hate heights. But I never dreamed that writing about flying would help me overcome my fear of it. This is the power of imagination, and the power of story.

2 thoughts on “How Writing Helped Me Overcome My Fear of Flying”

  1. The comment I was working on disappeared so if you get a short one ignore it. After a few flights during my college years it became clear that I was afraid-terrified actually-of flying. Eventually I was afraid of just going to the airport to pick up someone. After I finished my doctorate I vowed to NEVER fly again. And I didn’t for 25 years. Then God called me to go overseas to serve Him. When I told Bonnie she laughed telling me that meant I’d have to fly. I said that’s okay but it wasn’t true. Up to the day we left for our first trip to the Philippines I Wondered what I would do to prevent my boarding. To my great surprise we got to the airport, went to our gate, got on the plane, it took off, etc. And I never felt fear of any kind. God had taken It all away. And I haven’t felt any in the last 18 years as I flew to the Philippines 10 times, as well as South Africa, West Africa, Korea… God delivered me…

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