Monday, February 21, 2011

Even Horror Writers Get Scared . . . of Writing

This is a great post about the fears that writers have:

Writing Terrors

I think we writers are our own worst enemy. The thing that holds us back most isn't the whims of the publishing industry or the bottom-line booksellers or the fickle reader . . . it's ourselves. We let our fears hold us back.

Yes, there are exceptions. You know the ones. They stop by the writing groups on Dec. 2 and say, "Okay. I wrote fifty-thousand words for NaNo in November. Now who do I send it to for publishing?"

But the rest of us? We wallow in self-doubt.

Three fears that niggle at the back of my mind:

Fear of being a one-hit wonder . . . which is ridiculous, since I don't even have a one-hit yet!

Fear that when I finish editing my novel (notice I said, "when," not "if"), the only way I'll ever sell any is out of the trunk of my car.

Fear of scathing reviews. I've already vowed I'm not going to read reviews. I'm sure, eventually, someone will say something and I'll become aware of a bad review, but I'm going to avoid it for as long as I can. I used to sell stuff on eBay, and you would not believe the Armageddon that ensued after I got a soft positive or neutral . . . and when I got a negative, my husband would watch me like a hawk to make sure I wasn't buying anything that could be turned into an explosive device! And for the record, the few neg/neutrals I received were because I didn't accept Paypal unless the buyer had a confirmed address. I stated this several times in every auction (in bold and red, even), and at least once per month I'd get some buyer emailing me saying "Paypal says you won't take my payment. How come?" The irony of the whole situation is that I was selling educational products, the sort of thing used by homeschooler, tutors, teachers, and parents taking an active role in their children's education . . . and yet they couldn't read and follow simple auction instructions? F-minus, people, F-minus.

See? Now can you imagine how I'd take a bad writing review, lol?

But my biggest fear right now is that I've lost my mojo. I had built up a pretty good head of steam and was getting published on a fairly regular basis (and had actually sold all of my finished short stories). Then life interrupted and I had to take a three-year break from writing. What if whatever magic was powering me then has disappeared?

Ridiculous, I know. But they say muscles you don't use atrophy, so what if that happens with the "creative" muscle, too? Or the "editor" muscle, so now my polishing skills stink? I know of one muscle that hasn't atrophied: the inner critic. Wish that one would dry up and blow away.

So to sum it up: I'm afraid of failure; but I'm also afraid of success.

Man . . . we writers are a messed up bunch.

What's the biggest fear holding you back?


  1. I think my biggest fear is that I won't do something "right" on my way to having a book published. What that "right" thing is, that I'm scared of doing wrong or missing, I have no idea.

  2. Brenda, this really speaks to me also. I have many fears about my writing -- one of them -- the biggest one -- is that someone will figure out I'm a fraud -- not good enough. Blogging takes up a lot of the time I should be spending on my writing -- I've slowed down lately and spent three hours at a coffee shop today writing a short story with pen and paper since my charger was left at home. It felt great -- just to write -- and not blog. Thank you for putting it out there-- I don't feel so alone in my thoughts -- and thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog. Following you for inspiration :)

  3. Hi Janel!

    That's one I have, too. I think that fear is leftover from our days of high school/college English class, where we're warned not to dangle our participles, lol. We know there's this whole list of English teacher/composition/story structure rules out there and it's ingrained in us to be afraid of breaking them!

  4. Hi Marina!

    I know how you feel. There are days when I think, "Who do I think I am? Hemingway?" Then I'm completely ashamed to even THINK I should be trying to write. But it's okay. I'm not Hemingway, and I'm not a fraud. I'm just me. I'll never write like the greats, but I'll keep working on it and I'll be the best me I can be.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  5. I'm really glad I came upon this post today, it really hit home for me. I feel the same as Marina, my biggest fear is that everyone will discover I'm a fraud. I seem to wake up every day lately expecting that to happen! I'm so glad to know I'm not alone in this! Thanks for sharing, and for the link to Mayra Calvani's post as well.

  6. You are very welcome! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Maybe by airing these fears we can take away some of their power.


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