12 Most Self Defeating Fears of Writers

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.


Susan Silver

http://susansilver.info/

Susan is a copywriter who crafts content strategies that rank. She is also the community manager for Gygax Magazine. She shares information on business, social media, and writing.

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14 comments
dbvickery
dbvickery

I am a hack, but that seems to be working for now ;) Great points, Susan. I know I got a lot of scoffing when I started blogging, but I've definitely enjoyed the creative outlet as well as the 2-way dialogues in the comment sections and Twitter/Facebook around topics.

Martin D Redmond
Martin D Redmond

Thanks for the encouragement. I've been blogging close to a couple of years now and have felt the tinge of many of the fears you listed here more than a few times!

shyamster
shyamster

For me #3 and the fear of incubating an idea too long that I Iose interest in the topic.

PaulBiedermann
PaulBiedermann moderator

Nice one, @susansilver ! In the end, we really have “nothing to fear but fear itself.” But fear can be such a hurdle to get past sometimes.Your unnumbered #13 can be a big help here — having a supportive community such as 12 Most is extremely handy when you need help with something or just that one little extra kick to get going again. Love having you in our community!

DixieLil
DixieLil

Susan, just to add one fear - being edited to death so that some of your ideas don't make any sense in the final copy! 

jennykaypollock
jennykaypollock

Susan - great post. It's nice to see that other writers are thinking the same things that I am! 

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

Another fantastic post. I was at #1 for quite a while this morning! 

susansilver
susansilver

 @dbvickery Everyone starts somewhere, and even in the dirtiest soil there can be some life. I wish writers would give each other a break some times. Not everything has to be lit. 

susansilver
susansilver

 @shyamster That has happened to me before. You think something is really awesome, and then you sit on it. Bam, you forget all the details that made it so awesome.  

susansilver
susansilver

 @PaulBiedermann Thanks so much Paul for the support. I will always say being  in the12most community is what has given me back my self confidence as a writer. It takes effort now to be afraid when I have you , Peggy, Amy, and others cheering me on. 

susansilver
susansilver

 @DixieLil That is a fantastic edition. Yes, sometimes I find that the editing process takes away the stuff I love he most about a piece.

 

It reminds me of a story by Joss Whedon. He wrote an episode of Angel just so he could show of Amy Acker's ballet skills and ended up cutting the scene where she dances.

 

Cuts can be a benefit and we cannot be scared of them. 

susansilver
susansilver

 @jennykaypollock You are never alone! Any issue you might be having, there is someone else in the same shoes. That is why I like have writing buddies. Someone you can call up or meet for coffee that is going through the same issues. 

susansilver
susansilver

 @AmyMccTobin #3 and #5 get me all the time. I have to take my own advice and schedule writing time every week. It is just that important that it is a top priority for me. I have been getting better with #5 all the time though. Hope to someday banish that writing demon. 

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