It may seem silly to have fears and anxieties over a dream that you have had your whole life, but it’s true… we all have them. We may not realize that we have them. But let me tell you, they are there and they are real. They lurk in the darkest recesses waiting for the most inopportune moments to pounce. The best weapon I’ve found to use against them, it simply to be aware of their existence. Acknowledge the fear, accept that it’s there and that’s usually half of the battle.
Have you ever really looked at the face of a spider? I mean REALLY looked? Chances are, you haven’t. Let’s just say when you start to magnify a spider’s face…it isn’t quite as scary as it once was. I use them as an example because I’m not the biggest fan of them myself but once you look at the creature for what it truly is- it isn’t so scary. Use the same tactic with your fears. Acknowledge them, look at them, examine their inner workings and you’ll find that most of them are irrational, highly improbable or not that extreme.
So this is me, taking a good hard look at my fears and anxieties of being a writer.
What if I’m not successful?
The first thought was, ‘what if I’m not successful?’ I’ve dreamed about being a writer my whole life. Well, I take that back. I did write as a kid but I didn’t realize I wanted to do it for a living until the later years of my high school career. That was a huge wake-up call for me. Before that, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a little bit of everything. So to say it’s been a dream my whole life is probably not true even though it was something I’ve done my whole life.
So what if I’m not successful? I’ve only spent over a decade chasing a dream. Okay…Yea, it’s a little scary but with enough hard work, commitment and dedication, anything can happen. Besides, people have varying definitions of success. Am I looking to be a millionaire? No. I’d love to replace my day job with income from my writing. Being a successful writer to me would mean earning enough to travel as I please and live comfortably. I’m not looking to build my own Trump Tower.
Specifying exactly what I want my “successful” writer’s life to look like, helps take that ‘improbability’ factor out of the run. And now, not being successful isn’t an option. Success is only a matter of time.
What if people hate my writing?
Well, you can’t make everyone happy. Too many of us try to spend our lives making other people happy. It sounds like a great and noble thing but the point is- it’s your life and you need to make yourself happy first.
Don’t constantly worry about what other people do, think or say about you. There are over six billion people on the planet there’s bound to be at least one that doesn’t like you and there’s also bound to be at least one who does. There’s a healthy balance. Haters are going to hate. Don’t take everything they say to heart. Most times, they are just jealous of you anyway. Even JK Rowling had haters.
What if I really suck?
You’re never going to be a master of writing. It is a craft that we all work so hard at but no one perfects it. There’s always going to be mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make them. And when you do make them, learn from them. So what if my writing really does suck? I think we all have this thought in the back of our minds even if we really like writing and have faith in ourselves. Sometimes there are doubts. I think that’s natural… even if it does sound like an oxymoron.
I’ve had people read my work before and while they had constructive criticism most people really liked it. I’ve never had anyone tell me that my writing sucked except one guy who was really upset with me because he thought I was pretty and I thought he was annoying. So I think it’s safe to say that his opinion may have been a little biased against me.
Don’t be afraid to advertise some of your work. I started getting serious about my writing when I found fanfiction. That probably also sounds like an oxymoron. But when I discovered fanfiction that’s when I decided I wanted to write for life. There’s also something called fictionpress.org. You can put your own custom stories up there for free. You won’t get paid or anything but people can give you reviews and feedback chapter by chapter.
There’s also free sites like WordPress and Wattpad where you can either sell your work or post it for free. Also, Smashwords and Amazon have made it very easy to get your work out there to make money. Some people still choose to put their work out there for free. That’s a personal choice. It’s not something I agree with but I respect other authors’ decisions on how to sell their work. It’s not my business to tell them what to do, I can only make suggestions.
So now we have the other side of the spectrum. What about the fears and anxieties about being successful?
It sounds silly. Can we say oxymoron again? How can you be fearful and anxious about being successful? We all have this underlying fear and we probably don’t even realize it.
What if I’m successful?
What if I get a ton of money and I am unable to manage it? They say that lottery winners go downhill fast. They fall into bankruptcy because they don’t know how to manage their money and they spend, spend, spend. What if I can’t manage my money? What if I lose it all? Or better yet what if someone tries to take it from me?
There will be unwanted attention. I don’t think writers have it nearly as bad as movie stars and musical artists. Obviously. But you’re still going to be in the limelight a little more and a lot of writers are introverts. They don’t like a lot of attention. What if they want to stick me in front of a camera all the time?
Also, there will always be creeps. Whether you’re a writer or not, there’s going to be creepy people, stalkers, and harassers. We’ve all experienced these people at some point in our lives. Don’t let them bring you down…
Which brings us to…
There’s going to be those that try and seek to bring you down. The DaVinci Code wasn’t my most favorite novel but it was a page-turner. Did you see all the crap Dan Brown went through? How he was going against the church and all that shit? Kind of makes you wonder if they were hiding something… Even though he had a best-seller, there were those who sought to bring him down.
To mention JK Rowling again, there’s a lot of people out there who refuse to watch Harry Potter because “it’s about witchcraft and the devil” and their religion just doesn’t condone it…(even though it’s actually not about those things). It’s actually about racism. It’s WWII, set in modern times, with magic. There are two examples of people trying to tear down popular works. Not every story will please every person. I’m a fan of The Hunger Games but a lot of people don’t like the series because it’s dark, barbaric and there are children killing each other. To each his own.
On another note, we live in a very PC world and I am not the best at being a PC person. What if something I say is taken out of context and misconstrued by the media and I sound like a horrible person? Again, I think this is more prone to happen to actors and musicians but writers too if they become successful. Bottom line is anyone who believes everything the media tells them is an idiot and those people aren’t worth your time or energy anyway. Someone who is worth your time, won’t just believe things because someone else told them about it. They will want to experience it for themselves. And always remember, if you get bombarded by internet trolls over something stupid…internet trolls have nothing better to do.
Lastly, what if I quit my day job and then I never leave the house? What if the money stops? My day job provides a source of ideas for characters and story lines. What if I become a cat lady even though I prefer dogs does that mean I’ll be a dog lady just sitting at home with the dogs? What if I can’t keep it up? What if I have 5 good years and then all the sudden I can’t do it anymore? These are all legit fears. Perhaps some of you can identify with them. Perhaps you can’t. Regardless, I think it’s imperative that we get them out in the open. Suddenly, they seem so minuscule.
I hope this helps at least one person and lets some writers know that you’re not alone. Even though writing is a solitary path… it’s hard work, there’s a lot of sacrifices to be made, but you’re not alone.
Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores, sushi restaurants, and small town cafes.