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EEK! Writers: Is Fear Holding You Back?

EEK! Writers: Is Fear Holding You Back?

It’s the time of year when life gets a bit hair-raising: black cats crossing your path, zombies knocking at the door, ghosts lurking in every corner. Everyone gets (and even looks forward to!) some all-in-fun, spine-tingling shivers.

But what about the fears that are all too real—and wreaking havoc in your writing life? Deadlines…rewrites…rejections…oh my! No matter how hard you try to bury these fears in the back of your mind, you’re still haunted by the “what ifs” and devoured by your fiendish inner critic. Your personal phantoms can prevent you from reaching your full potential as a writer.

Fortunately, our clients have had a lot to say about fear and writing, and we’ve made it our goal to help them defeat the insidious monsters of the writing life.

Here are four signs that fear may be haunting your writing life—and notes from our clients about their experiences!

Sign #1: You’re being chased by zombies from the past. You try to move on and look forward to future success, but past rejections and criticisms keep stiltedly walking back into your thoughts (braiiinns…). When you dwell on negative results, you can’t see the potential for a positive outcome—so you may be tempted to give up trying.

SOLUTION: Let go of the past. You can’t change what happened, but you can learn from it. Don’t let the rejection letters you’ve received stop you from striving for an acceptance.

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Writer’s Relief has allowed me to unwind from the shame cycle of submitting my little babies to an editor for possible slaughter. It makes the entire submission process less personal and more professional. Now I receive rejections and move on without taking them personally. (Well, sometimes I do take them personally, but I don’t lose sleep over them.) —David Hancock

Sign #2: The “excuse” vampires keep sucking away your opportunities. You may have many reasons to put off chasing your dream: “I don’t have time right now” and “I have to put others first” are genuine concerns. But they can also be excuses you hide behind to escape the fear of failure.

SOLUTION: If there’s something you want, go for it! There’s almost always a way to work around your obstacles. You just have to wipe the fear from your eyes to be able to see it.

I was busy: finishing coursework for my PhD in Comparative Literature before doing archival research in Argentina, writing a dissertation, having a baby, starting a tenure-track job as a Spanish professor, and then writing an academic book. In between all of these things, I made time to write fiction, but I couldn’t also do the work of researching and targeting my short stories. Once I began using Writer’s Relief, I began to get published immediately. —Nancy Scott Hanway

Sign #3: A web of worries has you tangled and stuck. Worried you’ll be embarrassed if people know you didn’t succeed? Not sure how to find the right literary markets for your work? That’s the venom of doubt and anxiety creeping through your veins.

SOLUTION: Focus on what you can (and will) do, not on what you think you can’t. As long as you stay focused on your ultimate goal, you can escape the trap of indecision.

Writer’s Relief has been a much-needed support to my creative process. Prior to my association with WR…doubt and aversion plagued me and led to a very erratic submission history. The cheery communications from my submission strategists and a good acceptance rate have helped minimize my fears and encouraged me to keep generating and sending out both prose and poetry. —Leisha Douglas

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Sign #4: You’re cursed with feelings of inadequacy. If you’re new at navigating the publishing industry, you might not feel comfortable letting more experienced writers know how very “green” you are. So you might avoid joining a writing group, making submissions, or signing up for a writers conference.

SOLUTION: There is an antidote that breaks this spell! Partner with others who understand that everyone is a rookie at one time or another. It will help boost your confidence. Get out there and try!

Submitting to the Writer’s Relief Review Board took a leap of faith. I thought my first publication was a lucky break. But my second publication meant something more. It meant I could get three. And, little by little, I started to believe I was a writer. What a gift. —Corie Adjmi

Don’t Be A Victim Of Your Fears

Remember, fear isn’t always obvious: Like a kid on Halloween, it often shows up in disguise. But now that you know the signs to watch for, you’ll be able to banish these success-stealing beasties for good!

Photo by stuant63

Writer QuestionsQUESTION: What role has fear played in your writing life? What did you do?

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