This post is part of a 7-article series on the fears of writing. You can find all other articles here:
There is nothing quite like a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do but enjoy a little guilt-free time. The fridge is full and doesn’t echo, the pile of laundry is soundly beaten into submission and banished from sight, and I’m all caught up on work.
I picked up Your Writing Coach by Jurgen Wolff, and the very first chapter title snared me: No More Fear, No More Excuses. Many creative people often scare themselves out of a good project before they even put a pen to paper. Wolff broke down these fears into seven basic categories:
Fear of Rejection
This is a big fear and the most common. Harboring a fear that no one will like your finished product is enough to stop you dead in your tracks. Rejection happens. You can’t please everyone all the time.
If you keep trying, though, you find one person (or more) who likes your work. Store shelves are lined with the books of famous authors who suffered rejection – look where those authors are now.
The only difference between a winner and a loser isn’t the number of times the person has been rejected. The winner is the one that never gave up.
Fear of Inadequacy
This is a big, big obstacle for me – the fear that nothing you write is good enough. I can’t count the number of times I’ve dragged my feet because I thought to myself, “What do I know about this? Who wants to read what I have to say?”
Apparently, plenty of people. I thought my work was utter crap (and often still do). Clients think it’s almost sheer genius.
Even the critics thought Shakespeare was lousy; 400 years later, Shakespeare’s works are still around and doing well. Just goes to show how much critics know.
Fear of Success
This one sounds like an oxymoron, but many people are afraid of success. I’m pleading the 5th on this one. For some, the thought of everything becoming too big to handle is enough to paralyze them into doing nothing.
The trick is to deal with the situation one step at a time. Worry about success when you get there.
Fear of Revealing Too Much
This was one fear I hadn’t thought of. Looking back over the course of the past, there were times when I wondered if what I wrote did reveal too much of me. I draw a lot from experience. The characters in the novel James and I are working on are very close to my heart. I wondered whether family and friends who read the book would see right through the characters – and see me.
As writers, we often bare our souls. This works for you and against you. You’ll run up against people who disagree with you, but on the other hand, you might end up touching your readers deeply.
Fear of Having Only One Book in You
Finally! One fear I don’t suffer from. I have enough material stockpiled to write at least a dozen novels in a dozen different series.
Many writers aren’t that fortunate.
Realize that you are a writer, that you have stories to tell. You will always have stories to tell. Some may take longer than others to unwind, but those tales in you are waiting to come out.
Fear You’re Too Old
Bah. You’re never too old. With age comes experience. Experience adds depth to your writing. Age adds an element of maturity to any work. A novel requires patience. Think about it – patience is something a young writer might lack.
Fear of Too Much Research
Details are important in a novel. You have to know the period in which the story is set, the details of characters’ occupations, the nuances of different cultures, and so on. Even Details make the story believable. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, based much of his science fiction in science fact.
Enjoy the research. Learn about your characters and the world they live in. If you’re writing articles, blogs, or ebooks on non-fiction, enjoy learning about something new. Don’t consider learning a job; it’s a pastime and a hobby for many writers. So, how does a writer overcome these seven deadly fears? By facing them, of course.
Read Jurgen Wolff’s book, too. I highly recommend it. Or even better, get a writing coach to help you work through your fears and get back to great writing you enjoy.
(Hey, I just said I’d share the fears with you. What you do about them is up to you.)