The subject of fears is one we see often enough on blogs. There are probably as many fears as there are articles and books written about them. Fears, whether real or imagined, present us with many obstacles when trying to reach our goals. For authors, these fears are often strong enough to keep us from ever starting that novel we’ve dreamed about writing.
I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that writers, and artists in general, are an insecure lot. Deep down inside, we all want approval, we all want to be liked, even if the most cavalier of us say we don’t care what other people think. Authors want their books read and they want to be told it was enjoyed, performers want the applause of the audience, painters want their gallery full of admiring patrons. And bloggers? They want to know they’re not talking to an empty room.
When it comes right down to it, creative people are very sensitive, even if some have learned to hide it well.
Writing is a very personal thing. Any artistic endeavor is an expression of ourselves. Something like that isn’t easy to share with the faceless masses of our audience, fans and critics. There are always the questions lurking in the back of our minds that cast shadows of doubt over all we do.
Will my book be liked? Am I good enough? Did I make any mistakes? Did I catch all the typos? Will this sell? Am I wasting my time?
The ironic part is, you won’t find any of the answers to these questions unless you take that leap and apply actions to manifest your ideas. Instead, you’ll end up talking yourself out of a good idea before you have a chance to get started.
When “What If” Becomes The Enemy
One exercise I frequently use when I encounter a block is the “what if” scenario. This is where I ask myself what if a character were put in a certain situation and then brainstorm what might happen. I realized this could easily work against you in real life if you’re not careful.
It started when Joel Friedlander wrote a post asking his audience for their questions about self-publishing. Over the course of the conversation, one woman mentioned a common fear among new authors was what if no one was interested in reading their book? What if it didn’t sell? All the time and money invested would be a waste, so why bother?
Why bother, indeed.
With a thought like that, why bother doing anything at all? If all of mankind thought that way and followed through on it, we’d still be living in very dark caves, cold and hungry.
I don’t mean to belittle this fear. I’ve had that thought too. Only now after having written it, the question of late has turned into “What will the critics say?” It’s one thing to have friends, family and trusted acquaintances read and review your novel, but it’s quite another to send it out to total strangers who do reviews for a living.
It’s the big fish in a little pond syndrome. But you know what? Eventually, you’re going to want to leave that pond. Maybe find yourself a river that eventually leads to the ocean. That’s life. There’s always something (or someone) bigger than you out there. You move, you grow, you adapt and then you get to start all over.
The concept of “arriving” is an illusion. The moment you feel you’ve arrived and stop moving is the day life is over.
For Love of the Story
Writing a novel is a risk. A big one for most of us. We’re stepping outside our comfort zones, hoping there are others out there who share our passion for the story or message we’re telling.
To do this for anything other than the love of telling the story is where the real folly lies. Writing to get rich doesn’t happen as much as you think. For every successful author out there on the bestseller lists, there’s a ton of rejection notices and scrapped story lines piled in the background. In addition to that, there are many long hours of work writing the first draft, rewriting it, designing the book and marketing.
Success isn’t instantaneous. It just looks that way.
Believe in your story. Love your story. Enjoy the telling of it. Anything short of that will show. Your audience isn’t stupid.
The story itself isn’t the root of your fears. Take a look at what’s really bothering you. You may find that most of the fears revolve around technicalities. When I meet people and we get to talking about writing, it seems their fears spring from the technical aspect of writing and self-publishing. They’re worried about structure and the actual rules of writing. They worry about how they’ll get their book produced. They worry about how they’ll get their book distributed.
These technicalities are easily overcome. And by that I mean there’s a reasonable answer and not that the actual work will be easy. Worried about your story’s structure? Get a writing coach or story editor. Need a cover? Hire a designer. Want to do it yourself and don’t know how? Take a course or find the information on the web.
In our world now we have so much help available right at our fingertips. You don’t have to leave your house to find it if you don’t want to. What it all boils down to is taking your best shot and getting that first rough draft written. After that? Find the right people to help you put that final polish on it.
Have Faith In Yourself
You never know what you can do until you try. Life is one big assortment of risks. We take risks with everything every day in so many mundane and extraordinary ways. What have you got to lose by writing that first draft? Nothing. And the possible gains? Countless.