What’s so scary about writing? It’s not like you have to bungy jump into a book or be like Bear Grylls battling the elements while eating still-squirming things to survive. Yet fear comes up time and again as a reason why writers do almost anything rather than sit down and write. Or if they do, never finish. Or avoid sending their work to an agent or publisher. Author Erica Jong www.ericajong.com said that for years she avoided sending anything out. As long as the book was a work-in-progress, it couldn’t be rejected. She’s far from alone.
If you want to be published, you have to wrestle your fears to the ground. In my book, The Idea Factory, I recommend asking yourself what you’re really afraid of. Usually it comes down to one of these fears:
- being wrong
- actual loss
Writers aren’t the only people afraid of being thought stupid or wrong. Trying something new IS risky and you might fail. You could also succeed beyond your wildest dreams. The infamous writers’ block may be a defence against fear. If we don’t put ourselves “out there” no one can find us wanting. Try reminding yourself that you are not your work, nor does your career depend on one piece of writing. Even the most successful writers produce a “what were they thinking?” piece some time in their careers. If not, it may be that we’re not pushing ourselves far enough outside our own comfort zone.
When Allen & Unwin invited me to edit the anthology that became How Do I Love Thee? Stories to stir the heart, I said yes then wondered what I’d gotten myself into, never having edited other writers before. Mentored yes, through Romance Writers of Australia’s Valerie Parv Award, but contracted, inspired, collated and…gulp…given a group of multi-published authors feedback on their work? Hell, no.
I followed the advice in a handy book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers Ph.D. http://www.susanjeffers.com The title pretty much says it all. I said yes, felt the fear – boy did I ever – then edited the book. That experience became one of my most rewarding in a long time. This month, the book was published in Korean, and a review on A & U’s website says: Who would have though that such a mixture of emotions could be unbottled by opening this little book. It will have you smiling, crying, laughing, wondering all the while your heart skips a beat.” – Trinette, NSW (via Lifestyle YOU) http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=94&book=9781742370804
A sign in my office says, “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday, and all is well.” So go ahead, feel the fear and write your book anyway. It’s much more satisfying than eating wriggly things, I promise.