Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Writer’s Many Fears

Like characters, plots, scenes, story lines, different fears too reside inside a writer’s mind overflowing with ideas. Though these fears exist right from the time we put pen to paper (write that first word or type it), they raise their ugly heads when we start querying.

 Everytime there is a deathly silence from agent/agents we have queried these vicious monsters of fears raise their ugly heads. I feel these fears are obstacles created and thrown along our paths by forces unknown to us, to test our mettle, to firm our  weakening determination and belief and to strengthen our resolve to stick to the path chosen by us and make us have a firm faith in our stories.

These fears come in different forms:
  1. Fear of choosing the wrong subject. A subject that is hot now may not even receive a lukewarm response by the time we are thorough with the various drafts and rewrites and ultimately find a publishers/agent and the book finally gets published.
  1. Fear of not doing justice to the main character. A weak character is such a let down. 

  1. Fear of not doing a good job where plot, characters, story arcs, dialogues and settings are concerned. There will always be somebody left dissatisfied with our story/books. 

  1. Fear of not getting an agent. What if no agent likes our stories? 

  1. Fear of the book not finding any home (publishing house) even though the agent is on board. 

  1. Fear of the editor wanting major rewrites that we may not be happy about, or chopping  parts that we considered crucial or important. That is after the book has been placed with a publishing house. 

  1. Fear of being trashed by critics on whose words hang our writing careers. (If a critic is having a bad day, the result is a bad review) 

  1. Fear of readers disliking the book. ( That is  a major fear) 

  1. Fear of the first print run being unsold. (Another  fear that haunts) 

  1. Fear of not being given another chance to redeem ourselves. What if publishers and editors are scared to give us another chance? 

  1. Fear of  failure, of  being unable to rise up to our own expectations? 

 With so many fears surrounding us, it’s a wonder we are able to put pen to paper. Indeed it’s a brave soul that battles these fears to emerge with words that not only make sense, entertain, but also bring joy into someone’s life.

Which fear or shall I say fears do you face or have faced in your writing journey? At this point in time I am facing quite a few of these fears. How do you capture these fears to write day in and day out?  It will be of great help to each of us if you share your experiences and how you handle these fears and stop it from messing with your creativity.



  1. I could identify with most of them...Some fears though keep us on our toes.

  2. Oh my goodness--you have touched on so many of them I have faced. But I think once a writer has faced them,it gets easier to ignore them or move on. I fear the romance I am now writing won't be good enough and I will have wasted my time!

  3. The fear of biting off more than I can chew. It's good to stretch oneself as a writer but it also helps to know your limitations.

  4. I used to think rejection was the worst fear, but have since changed my mind. In some ways, success is scarier, because people actually read what you write.

  5. Having grown up in stage school, my writing fears are small in comparison! Although I feel many of those fears, I think the love of writing and being in charge of my creativity combats the fears really well.

  6. The fear is real when pressing the 'publish' button for a blog too!!

  7. @ Alka...fear is good but in small doses. Too much and it can hamper our creativity.

    @ Terri...I have had practically all these fears at some point or the other.

    @ Jim..the fear of biting off more than I can chew is one fear I tackle everyday. I tend to take on more work than I should.

    @ Angela...yes success is definitely scarier than rejection, as success puts us under the spotlight and makes us vulnerable to all kinds of criticism.

    @ Margo... being in charge of our creativity can indeed be wonderful. It does lessen the fears somewhat.

    @ Rahul...fear does have many faces. I can understand your fear, I had that fear when I started blogging.

  8. Most of the fears you have listed, I avoided by doing everything myself. I am in no way saying self publishing is better or worse than traditional methods or vice versa.

    I don't have fear of an agent not liking my story because I only have to worry about fans.

    I created my own publishing house in a way. I get to research and learn from my successes and failures instead of being rejected.

    Critics are wrong just as much as they are right. By the time they set their eyes on me, it will be to late for them to harm my career.

    Print on Demand leaves no book unsold.

    I have as many chances as I want to get it right.

    The only fear I have is not having the opportunity to try. The only person I have to blame is myself. Not a picky agent, an editor who wants changes without me understanding why, or a publisher who simply views me as a profit margin against current fads.

    So I guess number 11 is the one I worry about and I do have high expectations for myself.

  9. fear fear everywhere.. most them seem relevant :)

    Weakest LINK

  10. You really hit on most of my fears, Rachna. Now I'm going to go crawl under the covers. Just kidding. Not really.

  11. yep, I can relate to most of these fears. I love to write, though, so these fears are surrmountable.

  12. Fear makes us human, I guess.

    I'm almost finish with my WIP and I'm very afraid that it's not good enough and all that time and effort I put into it would become a waste. O_o I guess that's why there's EDITING.

    I can't even begin to imagine what it'll be like once I start querying. :-/

  13. All of these are SO true and well listed, Rachna. Thanks for reminding writers how much we surmount on a daily basis! Sometimes it's easy to forget how important courage is.

  14. Fear that I may never start that book and all those thoughts will remain just that - thoughts!

  15. Ah, fears... they suck. Plain and simple. I'm the kind of person easily paralyzed by fear of failure... but I have to remind myself, if I don't allow myself to push past this and fail, then I've never truly lived.

  16. I know it sounds odd, but I like to deal with fear by diving into the fears of a character in my WIP. I get so focused on their problems (which are always bigger than my petty stuff) that I can't but help feel better about myself:)

  17. Well, I can relate to almost any of them! But right now I'm mostly worried about whether my book will be liked by an agent or a publisher. I'm confident readers would like it, but, you know, first you have to get through the gate! :-)

  18. I agree with what Jim said: It's good to stretch yourself as a writer, but also know your limitations. Fear, unfortunately, has become part of the human psyche, but no one needs to be ruled by it. Great post.

  19. A big fear for a lot of us is whether or not people will read our work and if they do, will they like it? Having unfavorable reviews can be viewed as a validation of sorts given that someone took the time to read your work in the first place, but the fear of no one even bothering to pay attention is worse. In the end, it's up to us to keep plowing ahead, because deep down we want to write and putting pen to paper or hands to keyboard is usually the only way to temporarily quench the desire. Metaphorically I imagine my driveway is full of snow and no one's going to shovel it out except me :)

  20. I get all fired up and love what I do and then the fear that others will think what I've written is poor consumes me LOL! Great list of fears.

  21. Rachna, we do face a lot of fears, don't we? Right now, mine is fearing that I'll leave out some important detail/s that I've decided will make my characters more rounded.