Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

3 Fears That Keep Writers from Writing

Ok, these are my three, and I'm no psycho-analytical genius, so take them for what they're worth.  But c'mon, every one of us that has either not been published or has self-published have stopped writing at some point, right?  We may call it writer's block, but there's something deeper than just trying to figure out another word for "like". 

We're afraid.

Of what, you may ask?  Why, if I love writing the way I do, would I possibly be so afraid as to STOP writing?  You can't be published if you stopped writing.  In fact, 100% of all unfinished novels that have never seen the light of day are UNPUBLISHED (that one's a fact.)

So why do we stop writing?


This is a weird one, so I thought I'd throw it out first.  What does Fear of Success mean?  Who the heck would ever be afraid of success?  Money, fame, fortune, a beautiful model on each arm (depending on the tolerance level of your spouse).  Sounds great, right?

Wrong.  What does Success really entail?  CHANGE.  Imagine your book finally getting published.  Selling.  Through the proverbial roof, in fact.  What does that mean?  Changes to your lifestyle.  And I don't mean a brand new Porsche.  I mean possibly quitting your job.  Having to look for health insurance as a self-employed individual.  If you have kids, it might mean less time with them.  More time writing, but with greater, stricter deadlines.  Flights to weird places.  Book signings.  Marketing work, all while you still try to hang on to your crummy day job that you can't wait to quit but you have to keep because the royalties from last month just paid for a new printer and not much else.

How do you overcome this?  You face the fear, you imagine your life as a success, and you plan for it.  You organize your future life to understand what the change will mean, and make the change less of a scary "oh my God my life will be totally turned upside down" and more of a "man I can't wait."

Fear gone.  Until it's replaced by:


Yes, this is something that every author has so I won't bog you down with clichés and obvious points.  You know what this means.  You know how it feels.  You see the rejection letters, hear the "It was good" reviews from your closest friends, and you know you've just dropped your drawers in front of three agents at a writer's workshop and had each of them laugh at you.  You've failed.

So how do you overcome it?   EXPECT FAILURE.  Welcome it.  Relish the rejection letters, and never accept a critique of "it was pretty good".  Failure means progression, pure and simple.  Without it, you can't recognize what needs to change.  Without it, you only know you're NOT doing something.  Like Edison famously once said, "I didn't fail 1000 times, I found 1000 ways to NOT make a light bulb".  Find those ways.  Don't, of course, drive yourself to failure.  That'd be silly.  But realize each time you think you've failed, that you're a real writer.

And then, you'll only be left with:


This is an altogether different type of fear, based on the reason WHY you're writing.  We write because we love the act of creating worlds, characters, being charge, playing God, whatever.  But really, deep down inside, we write because we have something to say.  My author friends, the published ones, have written very personal narratives that touch on social issues they feel people need to be aware of.  K.M. Walton's CRACKED, about not just bullying but why someone might bully, is a very relevant social topic.   SPEAK, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is a wonderful story about a very troubling social issue of rape.  Even if the story isn't that heavy, like my book The Timepiece Chronicles (link above), there still is a theme to our writing that we want others to come away with (in my book it's about the importance of not fighting what happened in the past).

But what if your theme causes controversy, or you're seen as an expert when really you just wanted to express your opinion?  Or what if people argue against you, or challenge you?  That can be scary.

So, again, how do you overcome it?  TRUST YOURSELF WITH THE STORY.  You've written about this for a reason.  You know it in your heart to be true, no matter how many people take offense, or challenge you, or want more from you.  Hopefully, in your research, you've become somewhat of an expert, and hopefully you are passionate about it that you won't stop learning more.  You can stand your ground, accept the challenges, or promote your idea from the highest mountaintop if you believe in yourself, and believe in your ability to deliver the message.

We're all messengers.  Every single one of us that writes has a message to send.  Trust yours, and trust yourself to deliver it.

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