Fear is one big bugaboo in the writing world. Myriad writers must deal with it one way or another. Adults sometimes face fear with the eyes of a child, wanting to hide and hope it goes away. Nope--that doesn't work very well.
I wonder how many writers will readily admit that they have fears about their writing. Sometimes, it's easier to push it behind you than to face what it is about writing that frightens you.
What are the fears writers face? The list below applies to both new writers and those who have written for years.
- Rejection--probably the first one we all think of. It's real. No one likes having their precious words rejected. It makes you feel crummy until you learn how to deal with it.
- Poor writing--oh yes, many writers fear that they will not measure up to standards all through the process of creating sentences, paragraphs, full-length stories.
- Getting poor reviews from readers--this is a fear of just about every writer. Writers want to please readers and feel bad when they don't measure up to expectations.
- Success--sounds silly but some writers do fear being a success. They worry that they might not be able to measure up with the next project. They also fear the need to be with their readers publicly in book events, interviews and more.
- Not having enough talent--haven't we all asked our self Am I good enough?
- Not finishing what you started--what if you get far into a project and then have no idea how to draw it to a full, and satisfying, conclusion? Scary indeed.
- Too much competition--Self-confidence deflates pretty fast when we face the numbers of submissions vs the numbers of acceptances. Again, you ask yourself Am I good enough?
- Not having an advanced degree in the field of writing--MFA degrees are great but it's not absolutely a must-have if you want to be a writer. It would certainly be helpful but many, many writers don't have one in their pocket.
- Saying you're a writer--if you say it, you have to live up to it.
- Being laughed at--something beginning writers often fear
What creates all these fears? Lack of confidence is probably one of the biggest factors. I also think that having a negative outlook on life itself will create a fearful writer.
How do you overcome fears like those listed above? Slowly.
- Address one fear at a time
- Don't try to conquer all of them at once
- Keep a positive list--write down one good thing you did as a writer each day
- Be reasonable--don't beat yourself up over negatives in your writing life
- Make a list of all the positive things about you as a writer--read it daily
- Keep writing and submitting
- Keep learning more about the craft--that can build confidence
- Work on those unfinished projects, one at a time. Show yourself you can do it.
If you have some of the fears listed here, consider yourself in good company. Remind yourself that you're not alone. What we don't want to do is let these fears take over our writing life and push us away from being a writer. A bit of the I think I can, I think I can...attitude that the train had in that old story The Little Engine That Could might serve you well.