Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Writer's Fears

Now, we all have fears. Little or big, as humans, we've all had them. And writer's get them too.
Writer's are under a lot of pressure. Deadlines are always looming over our head and aspirations are spurring us on. It's hard to find time for other things at time and in other cases, its hard to find time for writing. But just because our names are slashed across the font covers of a novels across the world, doesn't mean we aren't human.

Fears are natural. Or at least they are in my opinion. We need fears. It keeps us going. It gives us a kick up the butt before that deadline and it keeps us on our toes.

Now, as a reader myself and curious-by-nature, I always wonder what the life of a published author is like. As an aspiring writer, my curiousity has only grown. I wanted to know if other writers shared my fears.

And it turns out, they do. :)

A little while ago, I asked a few of my fellow romance writers to share their fears. And in the future I hope they overcome then, recognise them as a nesscessity and throw them away.

And these are their fears:

  • Techno Paranoia
Now, I'm sure you all agree with me when I say technology is not to be trusted. If you don't, you're about to find out why writers like me think so.
Imagine this:
You're on a roll. You've been working on that chapter all day and finally, you're where you want to be. You see the end, you're typing the last line... Your computer crashes. Everything is lost.
And this doesn't just happen once, but whenever your least expecting it.

So what happens now? Well, you become paranoid. You set your document to save every minute. You carry around four usbs (making sure never to leave the house without one. You know? Just in case the house burns down or your robbed) , you email your manuscript to your bestfriend every day and you print out your progress every month.

Sounds a little crazy. Well, thats how it is. These aren't things I've made up. It's a recount of my life.
And every writer I know shares it.

  • Writer's Doubt
Doubt. Doubt you'll ever be good enough to be published. Doubt that joke you just wrote won't make you're readers laugh. Doubt, doubt,doubt, doubt, DOUBT!

You can't tell me you've never doubted yourself. Or your ability. Or that it won't rain in Ireland for a year. Naturally, we question ourselves. If we didn't, we wouldn't improve ourselves. Well, just as you doubt yourself as a human being, writers doubt their passion, their dream, their success.

Our writing is very important to us. Now as much as I'd love everyone to love my novels, I will admit, I don't write for you. I write for myself. And I doubt myself. But I don't let these doubts get to me. And I'm not the only one.
I know a woman who has 14 novels published. And she still doubts herself. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But she's human. She's going to experience one doubt a day. And that doubt is very often, going to be rediculous, a falicy.

And you know what, you'll go to bed tonight, worrying about that last paragraph you wrote. And you'll wake up in the morning, re-read that manuscript and smile, because it was all in your head.

If we let doubt controll us, we'd never be published. If we let every scrap of criticism strike our heart, we'd have quit day one. Rome wasn't built in one day and I'm sure even Jane Austen doubt her work. So don't worry. :) It's all good. Roll with it. And keep on writing. Everyones got potential.

  • The same old, same old
Now, this is one fear experienced by authors who've been in the business for years. I'm talking best seller, multipublished authors. Yep, that's right. Your favourite author has a fear.
You know, its hard to come up with something new. Something that unique. Something that's not, the same old, same old.
This is what authors fear. Disappointing their readers by re-writing an old story. Now we don't do this consciously. But we do take actions to prevent it.
Now a fellow writer, an amazing writer, shared her secrets with me. She reveal the very thing that kept her from falling into this trap.

Special readers. She has two readers. Two trusted, fans. Friends. And they read everything she writes. Their verdict is what saves her.

I'm a strong believer in a crit partner and I can't think of a better way to keep your writing fresh than to give it to someone who loves your work, cares about your future and know your potential. Crit partners aren't demons, their angels. Gardians. They're there to look after you.

  • Mothers
You've probably seen this heading and thought 'Is this woman all there?' If you didn't, your probably a writer and understand this fear.
There's a reason why writers use pseudonyms. Privacy and not just from readers.
In fact, I know a few who don't care who read their work as long as their mothers don't. And they are mothers themselves!
Believe it or not, writers don't want their mothers to read their work. The saying is, that your greast critic is yourself. Well, we beg to differ. There's nothing more terrifying than the woman who brought you into this world, judging your own creation. Now, she loves you. So she's going to be hard on you.
Now, not all of you will share this fear of course. But for those who do, good luck. If you're mother's anything like mine, you'll be fighting to keep that manuscript hidden until its on a shelf and that contracts signed.
But remember. Mothers also good for support. :)

  • Does this skin look too thin on me?
Criticism is hard. And writer's fear it.
But let me tell you, there's nothing better than thickening that skin. Writing is a learning curve. And if there's one thing I've learnt, it's to take the dirt. I've never been one to take harsh words easily. I used to take everything to heart. In the last year, I've changed. Don't get me wrong, the dirt still stings. But I don't let it get me down. I know my capabilities and I love my writing. I take on board what I agree with and I shred the rest.
It's that simple. It'll take time of course, but that doubt will fade.
So keep going and never give up.

  • What's his name again? What...
Even in my young age, I can symphasis with this fear. I have an idea one second and I have about ten seconds to get it down. I can have a conversation with a friend, walk away and forget everything I just said. Thankfully, my twin sister is usually there to remind me.

Sounds silly, but its true. And my fear is only minor.

A woman who contacted me shared her fear of forgetting everything. All the stories in her head, all the languages she speaks... all of them gone after a night of sleep.

The great things about deadlines is that they keep the brain running. We're constantly looking into the future, planning ahead. We have to when life is so predictable. When life gets a bit rocky, its nice to know we're got some solid ground to walk on.

  • Condemnation
There is a huge social stigma surround romance novels and it is a degrading one. And it gives us writers the impression that we need to hide, that we are to separate ourselves.
How many of you have blushed everytime someone asks you what your reading, or pointed out that bare-chested beefcake on the front cover of your novel?
It's the very same for writers, except we're not getting caught reading it, we're the ones who write it!
Many have condemned the Romance genre. Many have satirised it.
And yet, the genre survives. But how can that be if some many criticise it? Truth is, there are very few who have the right to criticise it. Many who condemn it, have not actually read it. And if they want to point out our romantic flaws, our passionate character or whatever they want to pick at, I have just one thing to say.

I don't write romance because that is all I can write. I write romance because it is what I love to write. You think its easy, you write one. And I'll have a go at your genre. To be honest, I don't like a number of genres. But its not because I think them illiterate or that their all the same. It's because the genre doesn't appeal to me.

Any novel written, be it a best-seller or something that's just come out of your very own printer, is an achievement. A great one.

Well, this is just the tips of the iceberg. I only spoke to one group of writers. And theses were just their fears. So if you've got a fear of your own, and your not affraid to share it, leave a comment.
If you enjoyed this post and have a question for me, send it in.
Hope I've entertained you, or at least assured a few of you. :)
Happy writing and reading everybody!



  1. Hey Whitney, what an awesome post. You are right about the stigma of writing romance. People still say there is a formula. Well, would someone pass it to me? Please? Until then, I'll keep on doing what I'm doing right now :)


    1. It would be rather helpful wouldn't it. But I think that with a formula, I couldn't do it being a pantser. I aways tend to break structure.
      Thanks for stopping by Imogene. I'm hoping to bring some interesting post to HTH this month too. :)

    2. I know we are looking forward to that <3