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It’s no wonder I added “often” to the title since there are some writers I know who are fearless.
But it seemed to me at the time of my conversations with them that they wrote for fun, not caring about the intricate details of editing, the possibility of their work succeeding, or the public opinion.
I’m not saying writing shouldn’t be fun, but to me and many writers who aspire to be full-time, published authors, fears are bound to exist. And these fears are specific too. They most definitely differ from one writer to another, and some have more than one, including myself.
Out of sheer curiosity (and the secret desire not to be alone in my fears), I asked the writers’ community on Twitter and my friends a question that pushed me to write this article.
Imagine this. You finish your written piece and barely read it once to check for mistakes. It turns out to be perfect, error-free, and beautifully written. You publish it, and people love it. You get praised for your excellent writing skills, and you become a well-known, published author.
Too idealistic, right?
This reminds of me of the last episode of “Jane the Virgin,” when her book gets auctioned for $500,000, and she gets her big break after a failed book and many rejections. All writers want to be Jane, minus the sorrowful journey of getting rejected and failing in selling their books.
But, guess what? Getting your big break after many rejections feels even better.
Catching mistakes and correcting them feels fulfilling.
Watching your journey of how you became a much more advanced writer means you’ve allowed room for growth.
We are constant learners, which means that we cannot be perfect on our first try.
Here are 10 fears writers have shared with me and how they can be overcome:
1. Hurting someone’s feelings
Especially nowadays, no matter what we do, we’re bound to hurt someone. There is no opinion in the world that absolutely everyone agrees with. So, remember when you’re writing, if you’re not intentionally trying to hurt someone’s feelings, be gentle with yourself when you receive negative feedback. And if you were using your voice to criticize something that you deem wrong like slavery, and someone pops up to defend it, don’t be afraid to stand your ground.
You are not writing to please the entire population on Earth (or Mars). You are writing to share your own voice. Your own opinion. Your own perspective. Your own experience.
2. Not using fancy vocabulary
I remember reading a book when I was at the university for one of my classes. It was a book recently written in English, and it had the most complicated vocabulary and complex sentences in the world. I spent my time looking through the dictionary to understand what he was saying and didn’t enjoy the story at all.
Khalil Gibran’s style was simple in terms of vocabulary but so beautifully written with profound meanings.
Complex sentences and outdated vocabulary in 19th century books are still beautiful to read and enjoy.
Point is that the complexity of the vocabulary you use does not determine your expertise as a writer. It’s a combination of several factors, including the style, the storytelling, the research, the validity, and authenticity.
3. Handling unpopular issues
I’ve witnessed many writers drift away from what they are interested in and start writing about popular issues just to get noticed by the masses. This will definitely lead to inauthenticity, forced and unnatural writing, and being untrue to ourselves. Look at your heart, search for what truly matters to you, and write about it.
Your passion for the subject will be reflected in your writing.
4. Not being a fast enough writer
Repeat after me: Je ne suis pas Stephen King. I am not Stephen King. We don’t have to be super fast writers to be good writers. I believe in the muses, and I believe in not forcing ourselves to write if it’s making us unhappy or uninspired. Writing is not an automatic and mindless activity. It’s fueled by creativity and inspiration.
Allow yourself to be inspired so your creativity can flow. Only then will you write something you’re proud of.
5. Not editing enough
I don’t believe any writer who’s self-published and self-edited their own piece went on without noticing a typo after publication (and if you’ve always published perfect pieces after deep scrutiny, then good for you, and I want your magic).
Allow yourself room to distance yourself from your written piece, then visit it sometime later. Only then will you notice all the mistakes that have been hanging there to mock you.
Or, the best thing you could do is find another editor with fresh eyes to read over your writings.
6. Talking about your personal life
The best kind of writing is the one that comes from personal experiences and personal reflections. But that’s terrifying sometimes because it feels like you’re baring your ass to the world with all its wrinkled glory. But if you find enough courage, you’ll learn to love those wrinkles and so will the world.
Okay, I took this analogy way too far. But you know what I mean. The best kind of writing comes from within. And “within” comes from everything personal to you. Do not be afraid to show who you are or what you believe in.
7. Being inaccurate
There’s no way around that. Accuracy is fundamental when it comes to writing. So, before writing anything historical, political, or social, get your facts checked or you’ll lose your credibility as a writer. Always reference information you include in your piece from reliable sources.
8. Stepping out of your comfort zone
Let me paint you a picture. You would love to write a historical fiction novel about the Victorian era, but you’ve never written with the voice of a Victorian lady or gentleman. This requires research and reading on specific periods, and you’ve never done that before. You’ve always written with a modern voice.
And it’s okay to feel afraid of not portraying the characters correctly because this will only mean you’ll do more accurate research, and you’ll excel more than someone who’s extremely familiar with writing with the Victorian voice that they don’t notice a mistake when doing it.
*cough* That Victorian era thingy might be related to me since I’m writing a historical fantasy book at the moment. *wink*
9. Rejection letter
This is a fear I found in most writers. It’s not like we don’t ever expect to get rejected, but not getting accepted at all is the biggest fear of them all. I mean JK Rowling survived rejections only to produce the biggest merchandise in the literary world.
Use those rejection letters as something to push you forward. It’s the hand holding back your arrow only to launch you forward. Rejection letters aren’t personal. If you truly believe in your writing, you’d know that it’s the agent’s taste or what the publishing house represents, not you. And if you don’t want to go through that, you could always self-publish and own full rights to do whatever the hell you want with your writing.
10. Not pleasing everyone
When did that ever work? Not in real life. Not in the writing life. Write whatever the hell you want. People come with different tastes that may be compatible with yours and may not. What matters is that you write something because you believe in it, not to get people nodding and clapping.
Are you a writer? What’s your biggest fear?