by Holly Michael
Hit the light switch. Quick! Run! Dive into bed. Not safe yet! Tuck in your appendages. Whatever didn’t catch you hides under the bed and eats toes and fingers. Oh no! Closet door is open. Close your eyes!
Does that scene prompt a childhood memory? Or was that only my childhood bedtime ritual? Confession: I was still in my teens the last time I hotfooted in fear across those creaky wooden floors in our old Wisconsin farmhouse.
As a grown up–or trying to be–now, at bedtime I hit the light switch and tip-toe cautiously across the room in fear of what hides under the bed–dust bunnies that might induce a sneezing fit or…gasp…need to be vacuumed up.
Fear. Do we ever outgrow it?
My grown-up writing career didn’t happen without a barrage of fears making me question why I started this venture. Writing is scary. Fears can cripple a writer.
What can we do? The only way to conquer fears is to face them. Let’s take a look at a few writing fears and ways to overcome.
Fear of Rejection: If you don’t send your writing to agents, editors, critique groups, you are no better off than if you get a rejection. Face that fear. You will get rejections. You may even shed a few tears over them. It’s okay. You will grow stronger.
And rejections don’t necessarily mean you are a bad writer. It’s more likely that the market is so hard to break in to. Recently, an editor of a major publishing house told me that proposals that they would be excited to offer contracts on years ago are now rejected. It’s the nature of the publishing industry now.
I got hundreds of rejections before getting published. Stephen King in “ON WRITING,” wrote, “The nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.” Rejections prove you are a serious writer and you are not giving up.
Fear of Not Being Good Enough: In the words of my mother, “Get over it!” Who is “good enough?” We all write garbage, especially when we start writing. Writing is craft. You keep at it. You learn to write well. Practice. Practice. Practice. Read the kind of books you want to write. Read books on writing. A few good ones are: On Writing Well by William Zinsser, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Write Tight by William Brohaugh. If you have a desire, a talent, a calling to write. Write! Then, write some more.
Fear of Success: Believe it or not, I have heard writers admit this fear. Weird, isn’t it? I suffer from the opposite fear. Bring on the success. All I can say for you strange people is…don’t look at the big picture. Take it one step at a time. Think of writing the first draft, not the movie deal. Nothing has to change, even if you strike it rich with your bestseller and your kinfolk say, “Hey Big-Time Author, move away from there!” Who says Californy is the place you oughtta be? Even hitting it big, you won’t have to load up the truck and moved to Beverly. Unless you want to, of course.
Fear of Exposing too Much of You: This is a common fear. Writers bleed their hearts on the page. They draw from personal experiences. Pouring out emotions can be healing, though. Your emotional experiences can also help others. Think of it as therapy, ministry. Write on! Cry on! Your words are powerful, friend.
Fear of Exposing Relatives: I was shaking in my boots, worried that my relatives would hate me when I published my first novel. For years, I’d threatened my sisters, warned that I was writing them as characters in the book. I was not kidding. I was. And they were not nice characters. When the first phone call came from one of my sisters after my novel was published, I cringed.
“I’m Heather, right?” my sister asked.
Silence on the phone line. I exhaled, waiting for the tongue-lashing. “Well….”
“I know that I am and just called to say…(dramatic pause)…that I’m sorry for how I treated you when we were growing up and I love you.”
Heather will be redeemed in the sequel.
My best advice for whatever fear holds you back? Quit running. Quit hiding. The monsters only exist in your head. Think about it. Did you ever wake up with no toes, or fingers? If there were monsters under the bed or in the closet, wouldn’t they have eaten you while you slept? That would have been the perfect opportunity.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.”
What is your biggest fear in writing? Life? How did you overcome it?