Friday, November 30, 2007

Fear and The Writer

My biggest writing bugaboo, my personal writing demon, actually, is fear. The fear starts when I write the first sentence of a new project (which is never as good as it sounded in my head), and only gets worse through the writing and revising and submission.

I worry that my characters feel real and are likable, that my conflict is strong enough, that I don’t have too many commas (my personal grammar bugaboo), and that my description is clear and vivid.

I’d love to tell you that when you sell the fear goes away, replaced by a strong sense of having accomplished your goal. Sorry, the truth is that it just changes direction. Now I worry my editor will want revisions I can live with. I worry that my next book will sell too. I worry that I’m making the right decisions about my career. And I still worry about the same stuff I worried about before: characters, plot, description, commas, etc. It never ends.

So why keep on writing when it’s so scary? For me, it’s an addiction. If I’m not writing, I feel like I’m missing something important. The reality of finishing a book, whether anybody else ever reads it or not, is an amazing feeling.
I love what I do, and if I can actually manage to make a living at it at some point, then I’ll have achieved my wildest dream.

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:
"If you’re not scared, you’re not writing." Ralph Keyes in The Courage To Write.


  1. Ah, yes, those darn commas and I have a mutual distrust of each other.

    Love your quote!

  2. I fear I am NEVER going to be able to finish another book sometimes, so I can relate!


  3. There's ALWAYS something to be afraid of, unfortunately. Commas, next books, blank pages. We just have to keep on keeping on.

    And then try to convince our families we really aren't crazy -- well, seriously crazy, LOL.

  4. I'm a fan of Ralph Keyes too. When I'm feeling discouraged I re-read his books.

  5. I think I'm taping that quote to my mirror. It's soothing, in a way:-) It's such a crazy profession, and FULL of things to be afraid of. You're right about teh fear just changing direction, too. Wish I could get rid of it! Great post.

  6. Thanks, Kendra. I think it's comforting too. Nice to know I'm not the only one who's scared. LOL

    Wonder if Nora Roberts is scared too?