Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Overcoming the Fear of Writing

What Scares us as Writers

Have you ever sat down and felt incapable of writing another word? Have you ever analyzed why you feel that way? It could be that you’re suffering from a fear of writing. If so, you share a fear that strikes the hearts of all writers to one degree or another.

What are Writers Afraid of
Many things but most of the fears can be traced back to the fear of failing – of writing inferior material. Here’s a list of some of the fears we do battle with:

· Fear of failure
· Fear of not having writing ability
· Fear of looking foolish
· Fear of wasting time and effort
· Fear of criticism
· Fear of having nothing to write about
· Fear of exposing inner feelings

How to Handle the Fear
The best way is to confront it head on. Try and pinpoint what frightens you the most and then deal with it in the best way possible. This may be by taking a writing course and learning the basics of how to write or it may be getting up the courage to post a piece off to a magazine or newspaper. If it gets rejected, welcome to the club! Rejections are part of life for a writer.

Keep on Trying
I still get nervous when I send off a piece to an editor. In January I wrote an article based around a 1984 edition of our local paper. I emailed it to the editor and waited...and waited...and waited. He’s not the best communicator so I eventually sent him another email. “Did you have a chance to look at the article I sent you on January 26th?” His reply was short and sweet. “Nice piece. Will run next week.” That episode had a happy ending but I’ve had my share of rejections. I remember making a suggestion for a series to the same newspaper and they said to go ahead and write part one. I did so, interviewing several people and taking photos in the process. They rejected it as being 'too Local'. It was very embarrassing telling those concerned that the story had been axed...but I didn’t give up. Since then I’ve written plenty of other stories for the paper but still get the odd rejection.

Find the Right Audience
Certain styles of writing suit different publications and editors. There is a local writing group in Christchurch who consistently pick my work to pieces and criticize it. The same stories have placed in competitions in other areas and I’ve learned that our styles just don’t mesh. I still submit the occasional piece to them but don’t worry if they hate it. If you feel that something you’ve written has potential, get someone who does a lot of reading or has a good grasp of English to check it for you. Then search for a market for it, even if it is a non-paying internet site. Just seeing your name on a published piece of work is encouraging.

I’ve heard that even best-selling authors still experience fear when releasing a new book. Will the public like it? What if it’s a flop? What if my creativity has run out? What if I only had one good book in me? The secret is to turn fear to your advantage. Don’t let it stop you but allow it to keep you sharp and always striving for improvement. In a strange way, it can become a good friend.

PS I've started a new column aimed at learning how to relate to people with disabilities. I'd love you to pop over and have a look.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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