Friday, March 2, 2012

The Many Fears a Writer Constantly Faces

We writers are constantly facing fear. The ugly monster of fear is a perpetual pressure in a writer’s life.  These fears hound us from the time we chose a topic or decide on a story. Even after we finish writing fears continue to accost us.

I have always felt that these fears are obstacles and road blocks thrown along our paths  by forces unknown to us, to test our mettle, to firm our sometimes weakening determination and to strengthen our resolve to stick to the path chosen by us.

 The monster of fear comes in different forms:
  1. Fear of choosing the wrong subject. A subject that will just not interest the readers, agents and editors. This is one of my biggest fears.

  1. Fear of not doing justice to it by way of plot, characters, dialogues, setting and resolution. 

  1. Fear of not having sufficient time to devote to the manuscript. 

  1. Fear of not being able to complete the book. Many times half way through writing we realize that certain elements are just not gelling. Should I shelve the book, or rewrite? 

  1. Fear of not getting an agent. It’s a fear that has gripped me now in a big way. 

  1. Fear of the book not finding any home (publishing house) even though the agent is on board. (That is my biggest fear). Once I overcome no.5, I will be caught by this fear. 

  1. Fear of the editor chopping parts that we considered crucial or important. That is after the book has been placed with a publishing house. For one of my earlier books the illustrator made a blunder and I had to bear the brunt of it by changing one of my main characters.
  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. I always worry about this one. 
     10. Fear of the first print run being unsold. This fear has bypassed me for a change as my
            first lot of books have gone into several reprints. Thank God for that.
      11. Fear of not being given another chance to redeem ourselves.

     12. Fear of  failure, of being unable to rise upto our own expectations.

I suffer from quite a few of these fears. It varies at different stages of my writing.  Sometimes I wonder how I am able to even write with so many fears surrounding me. But the urge to get my story out keeps me going. The vision of my books in a reader’s hands propels me forward.         

Do any of you have any such fears? Am I alone? Which fear or shall I say fears do you face or have faced in your writing journey. 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.


  1. The fear of choosing a subject which will have wider acceptability in terms of readership is the first one:)

  2. A great post ma'am. The post made me aware of the enless fears a writer has to undergo while writing. So, I,not being a writer, don't have any such experiences to be shared here as of now. LOL

  3. I've felt a bunch of these fears, sure. Even multi-published bestselling authors have some of these fears still! Fear can be a powerful motivator, though. You just have to move through the paralyzing part.

  4. Oh you are not alone. My biggest fear is that I will never be able to write the way I want to write.

  5. The only fear that really bothers me is the fear making the best use of my abilities as a writer. Not giving the right message or presenting the story the way it should be presented. That's what I fear. I try not to think about it too much and just trust my instincts.


  6. I share those fears and would add: Fear of writing some ok, but somewhat mediocre. That qwould come umder fear of failure I guess.
    Great post as always Rachna.

  7. We all have fears. We're all in the same boat. I read a very famous children's author say that she still had rejections and she still had fears. Even after all her beautifully written books were published.


  8. You are definitely not alone, considering this was my post from last week. LOL There are some fears you simply cannot do anything about beyond putting out the best product you can. That probably doesn't help, but it's true. I have an online author friend who wrote about struggling with these exact same issues. I don't think they ever really go away, though perhaps we gain enough confidence to push them back. Eventually. Good luck and don't let the fear get you!

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  10. Oh yes, I have many of these fears! I try to overcome them by trying to focus on the writing, and not the fears. But they pop out from time to time.

  11. I don't fear anything, definitely nothing related to writing.

  12. I really understand how fear can toss you to and fro but the older I get... the more I realize that it's just a big fat waste of time!!

    I do believe that faith is the opposite of fear so...
    Be fearless Rachna!!! I know you can do it! :)

  13. Enough of them that I started the IWSG!
    Ultimately, what is the worst that can happen? Regret is far worse than fear.

  14. You've named several of my fears, Rachna. Good post but scary!

  15. I fear my language may not do justice to my idea, which I call the 'miscarriage of idea'. That kept me from writing my best stories yet. I am waiting for my language to grow strong enough to express the ideas I have in my mind.
    I think the rest of the fears will come after that!

  16. I agree with Passu, but I feel fear is good, it helps you push further though personally I have not experienced many of your fears because I haven't written any stories or books.

  17. I’m the kind of person who can spend three hours in a book shop and come out with nothing for fear that I pick the wrong book and that’s me just looking for something to read. I’m not the kind of writer who knocks off a book every few months or even one a year; when I start a book I realise that I’m looking at something that will preoccupy me night and day for the next three years or longer and that’s a real burden especially since—so far at least—I’ve proven to be the kind of person who can’t let go of a project until it’s completed. I’ve just made a start on what I expect to be my sixth novel and I can’t pretend for a moment that I’m not filled with trepidation, the fear especially that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew and I’ll not be able to rise to the challenge. It helps having gone through the experience before. I hit a wall in the middle of both my third and fifth novels where I realised I hadn’t a clue what I was doing and in both cases had to set the work aside for what turned out to be a couple of years in each case until I could return to the task with a clear head. So, of all the fears mentioned, self doubt is probably top of my list. Readers I never gave a second thought until recently and it bothers me that now I do think about them. I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing because it puts pressure on oneself to play it safe, to pander to the expectations of others and I don’t like that feeling. That was never what writing was about for me before and I don’t want it to change.

  18. Fears are terrible things that paralyse us at every stage of the writing process. I tend to sing 'la la la' in my head every time one surfaces, but then I'm a little crazy. But the fact that you carry on regardless is what matters - the urge to tell your story overcomes those fears.

  19. You are certainly not alone on these fears! I think my biggest fear is trying to get a book written, realizing it's not working and then having to deal with the painful guilt of lost time. And I also feel the heavy burden of responsibility - that if a book isn't working out, it's because of something I'm doing wrong and don't know how to fix.

    Ahh, such pressure!


    The Red Angel Blog

  20. I can pretty much relate to most of those fears. I'm sure I have a few more too ;) I've found I have to ignore them and just keep writing. Remembering how much I enjoy writing also helps.

  21. Nope, you're not alone. We fear them, too. I know that for me, I'm scared of showing other people my work. I fear that my worth as a person will lessen in their eyes if they don't like my work. Irrational fear, of course, but it's what makes us human.