Monsters Under The Bed – Facing Your Writing Fears

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!

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courtesy of morgue file

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.

Photo by Holly Michael, her children.

Photo by Holly Michael, her children.

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.

morgue file

morgue file

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?

17 thoughts on “Monsters Under The Bed – Facing Your Writing Fears

  1. You nailed mine with the fear of exposing too much of myself through my writing. A writer, if we’re doing it well (i.e. not letting fear inhibit our writing), expose our hearts and souls (and our failures, if we’re honest). That was scary enough for me to do with people I interfaced with face-to-face on a small, select scale. Take it to the “out there” level of however many anonymous people seeing it, and I had nightmares. Doing better on that score, though it still hampers me if I’m not careful.

    • I understand. My first novel exposed a lot of myself. I was really worried, but the fear is bigger than how it actually works out. God’s got this. If he calls you to write, if you pray through your writing, he will work all things for the good. Your readers will love you for revealing your self and will relate to your story. Trust me, it will all work out. The world is full of hurting people and you have a story to tell that will help them along the way, touch them in some way. Keep up the good work!

      • Thanks, Holly! I’m moving forward. I spent enough of my life allowing fear to dictate my choices. I’d much rather God do that. 🙂

        Incidentally, the arguments “What makes ME qualified to write about this?” and “But someone else is already writing about ______ (insert a subject)!” don’t work. I tried them. You ever get the feeling God is just standing there with His hands on His hips and shaking His head with that amused, parental look? Yeah, I get that look sometimes. LOL

      • Lol I get that look all of the time. Once, after all of my fussing about writing, I had a dream where a huge, powerful hand holding a pen thrust forward toward me. I knew it was the hand of God and I knew he wanted me to write. Sometimes He must shake his head. Write on!!

  2. Fun post! You know me 🙂 FEAR NOT! God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind! I’m not afraid of ANYTHING – but you also know I used to be the biggest scardey cat in the world 🙂 I LOVE being able to trust the Lord! Hugs and blessings! 🙂 Great post, good advice!

  3. My going to bed routine as a kid was very similar to yours and I still need a light on somewhere in the house when I go to sleep. The old fear thing is very real for most creative types. Great post Holly. I like what your mom said, “Just get over it!” I tell myself that a lot.

  4. I’ve wanted to write books for years. My fears are, “What if my writing is too boring?” “Maybe I won’t find an interested publisher.” I am also not sure what things are permissible, when writing about specific cities and states, or quoting Scripture: Do you have to get permission or just make notions as to version if Bible, etc.? I’m so thankful for your blog and for encouragement by successful authors….thank you, thank you, thank you! God bless you in your efforts and endeavors to write stories that bring glory to God!

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