12 Most Self Defeating Fears of Writers
I recently joined a writing community and much conversation has been sparked between my new friends and me over the writing experience. The other day we were talking about motivation. How do we get it? How do we keep it?
Someone made an astute point, we all have the motivation!
What stops writers is fear.
I am beginning to believe that writers block could be a myth. As my friends began to explain what they feared most, several themes emerged…
1. I have no good ideas
Starting a blank page can cause acute anxiety. In one scene from the move “Shrink,” a scriptwriter sits down at the computer. He begins to write directions for an exterior shot. He goes through several ideas for locations; Vietnam War, Civil War, and the Near Future. Nothing sticks and he throws the laptop to the ground. I have wanted to do this so many times myself.
2. No one takes me seriously
One of the running gags on “Family Guy” is Brian’s novel. It took many seasons but he finally has his book published in season seven. The book is critically panned and he realizes how he sold out his ideals. Perhaps it is worth the risk of being ridiculed if it gives us motivation to improve.
3. I have no time
A friend of mine recently had to take another job. She has been working on a novel for the past few months. Her new responsibilities have been a distraction. She now gets up at 5 am in the morning to write with an online friend. They chat over Twitter and give each other pep talks. It is a sacrifice, but she is moving towards her goals.
4. It isn’t as important as my day job
Sadly, it is a luxury to devote yourself full-time to the craft. We have families, jobs, and other formalities. That doesn’t mean that your writing is what you should drop. It means scheduling time into your day to work on it, even if you are writing for yourself.
5. I have nothing to say
Writers want their words to have meaning. If our words can make someone laugh, think, or change someone then we have done our jobs. Implicitly, that means having a platform to talk about. We need to step down from our high horses and just write from the heart. There is time to clean it up later.
6. I can’t earn any money from this
What I see is that most writers desire readership, even if it doesn’t come with a pay day. I think most people want to earn a paycheck somewhere down the line. That means you are going to needs lots of practice. For the moment, just focus on writing.
7. Their writing is so much better than mine
I will never be John Steinbeck. However, I will always be me. Therefore I should worry about how I am writing and save the comparisons — leave that to the critics.
8. I have no writing buddies
Everyone needs to feel supported. Last night a member of a Twitter chat reached out to the community. He was struggling to find a writing buddy and we came through for him. Now I have a shortlist of people who can lend me an ear when I am feeling scared.
9. My writing doesn’t fit any genres
The classic lament. How will I be able to market my writing if it doesn’t fit a genre? Well, some of the best fiction comes from real life experiences. Some of the best non-fiction is embellished by people who understand the extra sensory details that make a story great. I say better to write your truth outside of a label and see who it resonates with.
10. I don’t know where to start
Where is the past part to start a story? Is it in the middle of an action, dialogue, or setting the scene. I have written stories that I love but during the editing process I rearrange the details. It can be more interesting to switch up an expected narrative structure. Tell the story first, then worry about the details.
11. I am a hack
A writing hack is someone who produces low-quality work. While used in a pejorative sense, many writers have started out their careers this way. If you have to take some assignments to get by, the only one that has to be okay with that is you. You are not defined by your writing assignments, but by the strength of your commitment to the craft.
12. There is too much too tell
Information overload may be the worst fear of them all. Sometimes there is too much to say on a subject. We need to think of ways to streamline the information — that is when we need to reach into the creative bag and pick the most interesting details.
One of the freedoms social media gives us is to reach out for community support. The writing spirit of self-published authors is very alive on Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and anywhere else you want to look. I think the spark of creativity lives inside of us all. If you find yourself facing any of these writing fears then you are not alone. Every great writer has had to face them down.
What demons do you fear most as a writer?
Featured image courtesy of Son of Groucho licensed via Creative Commons.