Fear is a funny thing. When you were younger, it may have crept up on you while watching a scary movie. Fear makes it feel like cold, slimy hands are clasping themselves around your heart. It makes it difficult to breathe and think clearly. This feeling we recognize as fear walks alongside us throughout our lives. When we were kids, we were scared by horror movies or the unidentifiable food in the school cafeteria. When we were teenagers, we feared being rejected by the boy or girl we liked, or getting a poor score on the SAT exam.
As adults, fear can come in many shapes and sizes. Oftentimes, fear can hinder or propel our success, and this is especially true for writers. Writing is a very personal thing, and it is not uncommon for writers to doubt themselves or their talent. However, if we allow fear to take over our thought processes, we risk torpedoing our own success. The following are a few wicked writing fears, along with strategies on how to banish them forever.
1. I am not a talented writer. My friends and family are just humoring me. My writing stinks.
This is a hugely psychological one. Writing is a form of art. Art is subjective. Everyone has different tastes and opinions. While one person may love and connect with your writing, another may feel differently. Either way, every successful writer has a combination of readers: fans, critics, and people in between. When that writing fear strikes, shut out the wicked little voice in your head and breathe. If you enjoy writing and are passionate about it, don’t let fear get in your way. If fear still has you in its grasp, joining a local or online writing group where you can get genuine feedback. Having a non-biased, third party opinion of your work will help you get a clearer perspective.
2. My writing won’t sell.
This is a logical fear. While writers write because they enjoy it, they also need to make money from it. Put aside the fear that you won’t make money for a moment, and take a look at the many authors who were not successful when they first started. Millard Kaufman, who had been writing since the age of 30, didn’t get a publishing deal until he was 90 years old. Laura Ingalls Wilder had her original biography rejected by publishers, but went on to have Little House on the Prairie published in her mid 60s. Anna Sewell published Black Beauty during the last few days of her life. These are just a handful of authors who didn’t have success right away, but kept on writing. There are many more out there who experienced rejection time and time again before catching their break. If you doubt you will be successful, just keep writing. Words can always be revised and edited. Your creativity and ideas have no boundaries. How will you know you won’t be successful as a writer if you don’t try?
3. I didn’t write today, so I probably won’t write tomorrow. My writing will never be finished.
This fear is very common. It happens because, as adults, we lead busy lives. Odds are, if you’re trying to make it as a writer, you are working another job or are in school. Trying to find a balance and setting aside time to focus on writing can be a challenge. Don’t give up just because you’re half-finished novel has some dust on it. Brush it off and come up with a writing schedule that works for you. Whether it is an hour of writing per day, or an hour a week, just keep going. Progress will happen, as long as you can dedicate the time to it.
Fear can stop you from doing phenomenal things. It can easily take control of your life and outlook, if you give it the opportunity. Don’t let fear simmer inside of you, as it then becomes much harder to kick. According to psychologist Alex Niles, of Psychology Today, we should allow ourselves to feel our fear for 5 seconds. Let it come in and recognize the emotion and what it is directed towards. Count to 5, and tell yourself, I am no longer afraid. Repeat this sentence in your mind or out loud for as long as it takes for you to feel the words. Only you know what you are capable of doing and creating. Fear is just an illusion in your head that tells you otherwise. Banish that little voice in your head—and keep writing!