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A Scary Topic...

Let’s talk about fear.

There’s definitely a lot of fear involved with the process of writing and with wanting to share our writing with others. Who isn’t terrified by the act of hitting send on a manuscript that's going to a beta reader, an agent, an editor, or – worst of all – a family member? Who doesn’t drip with flop sweat at the mere idea of reading a first page in front of a crit group or pitching a story to an editor at a conference?

But what is it we're really afraid of? Fear or success?

Sometimes the fear of failure and the fear of success can be different sides of the same coin, but this isn't always the case. However both types of fears can lead to self-sabotaging behavior that keeps us from pursuing our writing dreams. 

How can you figure out which one is holding you back? Well, let’s break them down by peeking inside the brains of two different writers....

Fear of failure writer

What if someone hates my writing? What if everyone hates my writing? What if I’m not good enough? What if everyone finds out I’m an impostor and have no clue what I’m doing? What if everyone else in the workshop writes way better than I do? What if Agent X thinks I’m a joke and laughs at my submission? What if my revisions are all wrong? What if my friend said she liked the book just because she doesn’t want to hurt my feelings? What if I can’t write another book as good as the first?

Fear of success writer

What if someone does like my writing? What will they ask of me? What will they expect of me? How will I be viewed differently? How will I have to change? What if I don’t want to change? What if I do change? Who will I be then? What if I don't like that person? What if people think I’m a snob? What if they think I’m a sell out? What if my friends can’t relate to me? What if my friends secretly hate me?

Do any of these sound like you? What tips to you have on facing your fears?   

Stephanie Kuehn

Stephanie is the William C. Morris award-winning author of Charm & Strange, Complicit, Delicate Monsters, and The Smaller Evil.

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  1. I am definitely a fear of failure writer! It's easy for me to start second guessing my abilities, and wondering if I'm just a total hack who has a few good ideas. Sometimes I find it hard to believe when people tell me my writing is good! I think I have a better time accepting critique than praise.

  2. I'm also a fear of failure writer. Just yesterday I tweeted that I want a writing therapist.

  3. I think I'm mostly a fear of failure writer but holding onto some fear of success writer somewhere in there too. Try and focus on the story and just remember that it will be hard but someone will like it. Also when I start to get too stressed out take a step away and do something to relieve stress like pet my bebe Keira, hit the softball for the dogs, bake, something.

  4. Thanks guys for sharing your experiences!

    Ariana, that's so interesting about being able to accept criticism easier. I can definitely relate to that.

    Jessica, I LOVE the idea of a writing therapist.

    And Eve, what great stress relievers you have. Those are so important. :)

  5. My tip is to scream until someone removes the source of your fear.

    Actually my Internet went out this week on two separate devices, so I called around and others had the same problem. It was off for about an hour and I was actually afraid the internet had left us forever! That was scary.

    <a href=">Wagging Tales</a>

  6. Definitely a fear of failure writer but I think Nike got one thing right in their bid to rule the world -- Just Do It. The fear isn't going away so you just have to go around it.


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Item Reviewed: A Scary Topic... Rating: 5 Reviewed By: stephanie kuehn