Everyone has fears.
Fear of spiders. Fear of heights. Fear of confined spaces.
Writers–especially those just starting out–have fears too. Specifically, fears related to whether or not they have what it takes to make it. Whether you aspire to be an author, a freelancer or a journalist, you’re probably harbouring thoughts that keep you from building confidence.
Here are 15 common writing-related fears you need to face if you want to make it past the level of aspiring writer:
- Lack of talent. There are probably times you wonder whether you’re truly talented, just enjoy the activity of writing, or if you’re just a perpetual wannabe.
- Calling yourself a writer: If you start calling yourself a writer, you’re going to have to write. People will expect to see you make good on your self-imposed moniker. Maybe you aren’t sure you’re ready for that kind of commitment.
- Looking like a fool. What will others think of you if they find out you’re trying your hand at writing? Will people laugh if you ask them to read your work? Will they lie and say you write well to keep from hurting your feelings?
- Not having anything to say. There are days everyone feels like this, whether a new writer or a seasoned one. You might worry that you won’t be interesting to other people, or that you’ve only got a couple of viable ideas–not enough to build a career on.
- Not having enough life-experience. Everyone says you should write what you know. What if you don’t know that much? What if you’re still only in your 20’s or you’ve led a very sheltered life? Maybe you fear you need to do a lot more personal growing before you can be a good writer.
- Not having enough education. Yes, education can help you get where you want to go, but maybe you think you need a degree in English or Creative Writing to have the necessary skills to be a writer. And of course, few are prepared to go back to university to do so.
- The system being against you. You’ve done some research, and you’re already aware that the publishing industry is very difficult to break into. You could be convincing yourself there’s no way you’ll ever get published, so it’s best not to try.
- Rejection. Even if you’re not convinced the system is completely against you, perhaps you have a terrible fear of having your work rejected. You’ve heard writers sometimes get hundreds of form rejections before they ever get an acceptance, and you’re not sure you want to be on that kind of emotional roller-coaster.
- Not finishing what you’ve started. You might have no difficulty getting started on a writing project, but somewhere along the line your enthusiasm and work ethic seem to dwindle. You’re afraid you won’t be able to keep up the pace long enough to finish what you’ve started.
- Failure to live up to your own standards. It could be you just have a distorted view of your own writing. Maybe others think you have great potential, but the picture you have in your own mind falls far beyond what you believe you’re capable of doing.
- Others surpassing you. If you have friends that write or are part of a writing group, you might be concerned that others are more likely to succeed that you are.
- Selling out. Do you see yourself as the ultimate rebel? Is your voice so unique you fear any publisher willing to take you on will force you to sell-out to the mainstream market? You might see being true to yourself as more important than making a sale (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can still be a source of fear).
- Being in the wrong field of writing. There are times when you wonder if you’re writing the right thing. If you’re an aspiring novelist, you might be curious whether you should be writing non-fiction instead. Or, a freelancer might think they could be better off trying fiction.
- Lacking time. Life gets in the way of best intentions, more often than not. You might have a family to take care of, a hectic job or other responsibilities you see as being major stumbling blocks to your success.
- Financial concerns. You worry about the logistics of writing full-time. Is it possible to make enough money to live on? What will you need to sacrifice in order to follow your dream?
Which of these fears are gnawing at you at the moment? Which can you see becoming a problem in the future?
Some steps you can take toward addressing these issues are:
- Decide which fears concern you most.
- Categorize them according to which fears are valid, which could become valid, and which are simply excuses to not write.
- Brainstorm how you can address your fears in tangible ways. Instead of saying, “I plan to tell myself it’s okay to be rejected,” say, “I’ll research reasons why submissions get rejected and revise my work accordingly.”
- Keep a written copy of your action plan so you can refer to it in the future when you begin to feel discouraged.
Don’t let insecurity keep you from doing something you feel called to do. Face your fears today and get back on the road to writing.