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The Scariest Part about Writing (and how to get over it)

Posted Aug 13 2014, 9:34 am

When I was an aspiring author, I knew I needed to work on my craft, but I had a pretty good idea that I was meant to be a writer. After all: I was making my living as an advertising and marketing copywriter, so words were already my trade.

But was I any good at fiction? One easy way to find out, I decided, would be to submit my work to contests. However, as I quickly learned, those contests were often judged by fellow writers, not pure readers. So win or lose (and I did my share of both!). . . that wasn’t really the kind of judgment that worried me.

Submitting my work to the publishing world, however, was something else entirely. Sending my work to editors and agents was a big step closer toward my work getting in the hands of final readers. So, that’s what I did next.  

First I had to get over submitting a query letter. Then a partial. Then requests for full manuscripts came in, and I had to get over that fear. And then, finally, I got an agent! I sold! I thought my fears were over . . . until I realized that I still had yet to put my work out for actual readers.

Happily, while not every reader loves every book, I’ve generally been blessed with favorable reader response since my first book came out in 2013. (Hooray!!) But still: with two books out and two more on the way in YA fiction, and two books out and two more on the way in NA fiction, I have to admit: I still worry about putting my work out there. I get nervous every time I send off a book—whether to my agent, my editor, or to readers. It’s funny, in a way: Writing fiction is the work I most want to do in this world, yet it’s work that involves me having to face my fears over and over again.  

So in considering all of this, I wondered: HOW do I do that thing that makes me afraid? What helps me overcome me fears? And I’ve come up with five quick tips to power through, in case you find them useful!:

 

1. Have a really big “Why”.

Fear is big. Sometimes all consuming. So in order to really get through it, your “Why” has to be even bigger. In other words, your reason for doing this scary thing has to be the most powerful driver in your universe. (Especially if it has to keep inspiring you to face your fears ongoing!) If your Why is big enough, you can do anything.

 

2. Work at it every day.

Fear is one of those things that builds up when you’re not looking. Walk away from a project for a day, and it builds a little. Walk away for a week or a month, and it becomes almost insurmountable to open up that project again. So do yourself a favor: work with that thing you fear every day. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, it will help you keep Fear from getting out of hand.

 

3. Create a path of successes.

Fear is never an easy path . . . but along its twisting road, you can still find the occasional rose. Identify things to celebrate. Finish a chapter? Finish the day’s goal? Finish the book? Even if these things don’t address your key fear (sending the book OUT there into the world, in my case) these successes are worth celebrating. Feel good! You are moving forward. Even if some days that “moving forward” is really just more of an aggressive lean . . .  🙂

 

4. Be kind to yourself.

Working in an area that brings you fear can be draining. So be kind to yourself. Rest often. Eat well. Refill the well. I don’t do this enough, but it’s a critical way to help you keep your center. And to help make sure you return to your work, day after day.

 

5. Honor your circle of support.

Many of our biggest dreams feel like a solitary pursuit, but if we look carefully, we can see that there are people walking with us, who help make our way a little easier.  Whether they are your family, your friends, your writing buddies, or your guardian angels—these individuals are there to uplift or instruct you, exactly when you need it. Sometimes it’s not easy to hear what they say, but learn to listen.  Thank those souls who walk with you, and seek to understand and accept their gifts (even if they’re not wrapped in bright shiny packages. . . sometimes the hardest-to-hear advice is the best gift of all). The more you open yourself up to those who are worthy of your trust, who want nothing more than for you to succeed, the more you’ll be ready to do that thing you fear.

 

And here’s my wish for you: May you always keep doing that thing you love, even when it gets scary.

 

This blog was originally posted as part of the Fake It blog tour. Special thanks to Reese’s Reviews for hosting me!

 

 

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