Fun fact: When I was growing up I played baseball.
Fun context with respect to the above fun fact: my dad said to me (most likely during a time when my confidence was low and he was trying to build it up like great dad’s do – also see the Footnote) that instead of being afraid of being at bat in a “crunch” situation I should relish it. If I wanted to be a great player I needed to want to be at bat with the game on the line. This is something that’s stuck with me and although I maybe didn’t feel it 100% back when I was playing I have definitely not forgotten this advice and I now try and apply it to my writing life.
Just like great baseball players want to be up with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the bottom of the 9th while trailing by a run and great hockey players don’t shy away from playing the spotlight of Toronto, great writers aren’t afraid of the “dirty” places. The “dirty” places being the dark spots of human emotion and action where you as a person and a writer may never visit but because you are a great writer your characters live in these places and emotionally go where you need to take them to tell a great story.
Don’t be afraid to take your characters and your story to depths you need to take them. Don’t be afraid to place them in certain situations – the hypothetical “bottom of the 9ths”. If you think it may make your story unbelievable or “shitty” then you are letting fear get in the way of you being a great writer. Plus, don’t forget about the suspension of disbelief. Unless you are writing non-fiction, then anyone reading your work will pick it up with this firmly in place (hopefully). It’s an integral part of reading fiction as all fiction readers (should) know.
Ultimately, great writers aren’t afraid to “fail” or the better term for “failing” is actually editing. You can always change it or dial it in a little after but goes balls out on that 1st draft because you never know what you will learn about your character(s), about your writing ability and about yourself.
Footnote: my mom also provided inspiration by making sure I was well fed before games and sitting and chatting to the other mothers in those old and really uncomfortable woven fold out lawn chairs. I was/am lucky for both of them.