A Writer’s Carnival of Fear
“Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up. Come in and see the whirling fears in a writer’s mind. ”
Writers are like most people and some are more confident than others. However, most writers I meet are a lot like me. We question, doubt, and squirm over nearly everything.
This post is for those who question so much and wonder if they are alone with their fears. I assure you, you are not.
This post is also for those who need to know there is someone more neurotic than them. Yes, I am, and there is probably someone more so than myself (I hope).
And this post is for those who want to confirm that some writers, like myself, are nuts. Yes, but at least we make life interesting.
Without further ado, let me take you through the curtain into the dark depths of my brain (If I were Barnum and Baily I could be profit from this horror trip). Fear not, I promise to share some of my coping techniques…they may not be normal, but they work.
One of my biggest fears is when I submit anything, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, whether it’s sent via email or a submission form. The fears run the gamut from: “It’s not good enough,” to “I’m targeting the wrong market.” And of course, they encompass everything in between.
My coping technique for submitting is a pep talk before I prepare cover letters and format the piece for each different place. Once the piece is ready to go, I take a few deep breaths, stand up, push my chair out of my path, hit send, and then run like the wind away from my computer. Every time. I wish I was joking.
Another fear, is that the piece I have submitted is so horrendous, I’m going to get black-balled from the writing industry via some full front page ad on every newspaper. The whole world will know I suck.
I really don’t have a coping mechanism for this one. I just keep reminding myself that it hasn’t happened yet to anyone else, so why should it be different for me?
Then there’s the fear of rejection. And the actual rejection itself. Rejection sucks. I know it’s not personal. I know it could be a bad fit. But the fear resides.
So how do I cope with this? I have my husband to thank for this option. He reminded me, “Decca turned down The Beatles.” That is what I tell myself. Even John Lennon and Paul McCartney got the cold shoulder.
There’s also a fear of acceptance. When I do get accepted, I cheer. Then I promptly, sit down and freak out. “Holy snot! Everyone is going to know I’m a fraud. There’s no way I can do this piece justice.”
The best way I cope with this is to knuckle down and do it. As much as I fear sending something that sucks, I fear missing a deadline more. I refuse to end up on an editor’s “scum” list for not producing material.
Those are the big fears. All the others are annoying, but small. There will always be a fear that the writing sucks, the editing made something worse, or the ending doesn’t tie together.
My best recommendation is to accept the fear. Don’t succomb to it. Keep the ideas flowing, keep writing, and keep pushing the fear aside. If you let fear take hold, it’s like moss covering a rock and preventing it from rolling. Worse case, fear makes the heart beat faster. That’s got to to burn a few calories, right?
What are the ways you deal with fear? What mantras or coping techniques do you use?