Apr 7, 2014

Posted by in Jade Melisande, On Writing | 2 Comments

#AtoZChallenge – F is for Fear

Nearly every writer has felt it at one time or another. Many, many would-be writers let it rule them so that they never write, though they claim it is what they most want to do. Even prolific writers, even multi-published authors, feel it occasionally.

The fear of failure. The fear of not living up to some standard they have set in their minds (to write as well as so-and-so, to write a story/novel/article as good as the last one, to be this popular) or simply that they won’t be able to say what they want to say the way it sounds in their minds: “I have this amazing story, it’s so beautiful, so powerful in my mind, but…I know it won’t come out like that.”

So we don’t try. We are paralyzed by our fear.

There are dozens of self-help articles on the net about writing through your fears, conquering your fears, identifying your fears, visualizing yourself overcoming them, etc. I found two on this website alone: Art of Writing: Write to Done.

The first, The Secret Fear of Every Writer – And How to Subdue It Every Time talks about the fear that what we say will have no value, and the way to push through that fear is 1. to write what you believe in and 2. to believe in what you write. Writing is circular that way. Kind of like the advice that if you smile, your brain will start to believe you are happy, and you’ll be happy. Believe in what you write – and write what you believe – and it will come through in your writing.

If you’re passionate about recycling, you’re going to inspire others to be passionate about recycling. Your best work is where your passion lies.

 

With passion comes emotion. And with emotion comes vulnerability.

 

If you embrace openness in your writing you’ve done the best you can do. Your only responsibility is to say what’s in your heart and be true to yourself, your audience, and your subject.

 

After that the world can do what it likes with your words.

The second article, Do You Worry About Your Writing? How to Stop and Fall Back in Love with It, gives some specific techniques, but it was this part that gave me pause:

Failure doesn’t mean anything. 

Yes, rejections and disappointing sales hurt.

When they start building up, they can feel downright devastating — but only if we think they actually mean something. But do they?

Here are some of the things we tell ourselves about failure. None of them hold water.

 

Failure means you have no talent. We should ask Herman Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Margaret Atwood, and John le Carre about that. They all experienced repeated failures in their careers — and they are all now recognized as among the greatest writers of their generation.

 

Failure means this specific work isn’t good enough. Even if you’re fairly confident of your writing skill, you may question the value of a particular story, poem, or novel when it starts racking up rejections. That would mean that Stephen King’s Carrie, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and George Orwell’s Animal Farm weren’t any good, either — they were all rejected dozens of times. So we can chuck this idea, too.

 

Failure means we’ll never make it. It can feel like this sometimes. But again, all it takes to dispel this idea is a quick look at some authors who failed again and again before they became successful.

This bit of advice is the exact thing that I have been telling myself as I go through the job application process. Not getting an interview or not getting a job offer doesn’t mean that “I am a failure.” I am not the sum total of the job rejections that I have had. Being rejected doesn’t mean that I’m not good enough, that I don’t have skills and experience and talent, and doesn’t mean that I will never get asked in for an interview or get a job offer. It just means that for this particular job, the person in charge didn’t feel that I was the best possible candidate.  There can be a myriad of reasons for this, none of which say anything about me as a person, or even as a job candidate, just as a candidate for that job, in that person’s opinion.

Writing – and having your writing rejected – is much the same. Maybe this piece of writing wasn’t right for that editor, for that publication, for that audience. It doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to say or that you didn’t say it well. (On the other hand, it may say that the work needs polishing or revising – but that’s a different post altogether, and one I talked about in Rejection Makes Me Better.)  Either way, use it to spur you on. Don’t let your fears rule you. Believe in yourself and write what you believe in, because if you never start, you’ll never finish, and if you never finish, you will fail.

  1. I’m still learning to trust my voice as a writer. In the end, I have for more fears as a writer than I do as a dominant. Strange?
    Michael Samadhi recently posted…“H” is for HotelMy Profile

    • I don’t know if that is strange or not…in BDSM play (or a relationship) you have give-and-take that you see immediately, an explicit reaction to what/how you are doing, another person that you are exploring it with. In writing…you are essentially alone, until you throw your baby out into the world, and you may NEVER get feedback on how you’re doing. So, no…that makes sense to me.
      Jade recently posted…#AtoZChallenge – H is for Hotel BondageMy Profile

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