inspiration, Musings, Writing

If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.

Last week, I read this post by author Nova Ren Suma. She talks about the fear she has about deciding what story to write next.

I think part of this is fear, of course. Fear of not having a new book under contract and worrying what will happen when I try.Β 

I can feel the pressure she is putting on herself to find a story that she feels passionate to write and one that she thinks people will love to read.

After reading this post, I wrote this on Twitter:Β Just read a blog post by an author with 3 published books, terrified about deciding what to write next. Do we ever stop feeling the fear?

Instantly, three authors responded with variations of “No” and “Never”. Huh. I stared at my screen in horror. I have been full of writer fear and self-doubt for months but I had hoped that this would fade once my writing journey got started. Once I had an agent and book deal. But it seems that there is fear to be found at every step of the journey – fear your book won’t sell to a publisher, fear that it won’t sell to the public, fear of what to wrote next etc. Laura Lam noted on Twitter that JK Rowling must have felt fear releasing her first non-Harry Potter book, even though she’s already sold millions of books.

What is it then about writing that breeds so much fear? Is it that writers are following what they are passionate about, their dreams and when your dream is on the line, you can’t help but worry about it falling apart? Or is it that writers are creative people that tend to be more sensitive about things? Or is it that writing is often a solitary career and when you’re alone in something, it’s easier to be gripped by self-doubt? It’s probably a combination of all three, of course.

I’m sure that as you grow more successful the fear becomes easier to deal with and that there is much to enjoy along the way to dissipate it. I can only imagine the feeling of signing your first book deal or seeing your book on the bestseller list. And I think that’s why writers keep going, why we put ourselves through all the fear and anxiety and self-doubt – we want those joys. We want our dream to come true.

And as a wise person once said:

How do you deal with fear?



24 thoughts on “If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.”

  1. Very much so. Every time I send in a submission I sweat bullets. What if they don’t like it? What if they come back with changes? What if I’m a royal failure at writing and I should clean toilets instead? I’ll never finish this book! What if I hit writer’s block?

    I think all artists have that fear, that desire to be accepted and if we aren’t, we’ve somehow failed. Like an Olympian athlete, somehow we have to find our inner-strength, do the best we can do, and strive to be better than before. Will we ever get over the fear, the shattered nerves? I don’t know, but we can’t give up trying because of it. If we do, then we’ve defeated ourselves before we even started.

  2. I believe that fear is a motivator as well as an indicator of passion. I feel fear when I embark on any endeavor, whether its the first day of walking into a class of new students, the opening of a show, or writing and submitting some work. If I don’t feel fear (particularly in those areas where I have the most confidence) then often the results are mediocre at best. When I go into something 100% confident, I simply don’t do my best work. Call me crazy, or artistic, or just strange but I seem to work better with a little fear in my life.

    1. I know what you mean – a little fear means you’re doing something that means something to you, we just need to be careful not to let the fear take over and stop us from doing that something. (not sure if that makes sense!!)

  3. I’ve had twenty novels published, and written a bunch of other stuff for TV and radio and comics and computer games and so on. Sorry to say, the fear never goes. The quiet belief that you’re a fraud, just waiting to be found out. As with mortgages, all indicators of past success count for little when you sit down to select or start a new project. You know you’ve done it successfully in the past, but a blank page or screen is still blank, regardless.

    Best of luck with your chosen project!

  4. Rowling did admit she was anxious about her book release. I think it’s nice that she did that, it’s really humbling. Even though she’s a bigshot author, she cares about how her book will be received. Any good writer should feel like that; it’s perfectly normal. Personally I grit my teeth and just go with it. Que sera, sera… right? πŸ™‚

  5. I totally agree with Zen! I just work through it because every rejection gets me a step closer to my goal. When my work is accepted all of the rejection and fear I’ve worked through makes me appreciate what I’ve done even more.

  6. The more I read about what it takes to get published, and how slim the chances are of that happening, and then I go back and look at what I’ve written, I get scared! I start thinking, “This is crap! No one wants to read this!” The whole thing is really intimidating. But it’s nice to know that everyone else (well, ALMOST everyone, except for those lucky few who Twittered you) is feeling the same way.

  7. Fear comes with the territory of doing anything creative-based or performance-based, I think. I’m sure athletes, musicians, artists–they all endure some level of fear. I guess we just need to take comfort in the fact that we’re not alone in our fears.

  8. Oh wow, I had no idea writers dealt with so much fear. I mean, it makes perfect sense and I’m certain I would feel that way if I were a writer. I mean, fear is such an easy emotion for me in general (especially when it comes to fear of rejection) so I definitely hear you there. I guess I just didn’t realize there was a whole group of incredibly amazingly talented people out there who feel those same fears. But like you pointed out: “Nothing worth having, ever comes easy.” πŸ™‚

    1. It surprised me that published authors still feel so much fear. I think fear is an easy emotion for all of us unless you’re the most confident person in the world! We just need to not let it hold us back πŸ™‚

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