For many of us, the thrill of writing can overpower almost any other emotions we have. There’s something amazing that happens when you hear the clickity clack of the keyboard or watch the blank spaces of a fresh page disappear. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but breathe a gigantic sigh of relief as I feel my swollen brain relax and release all the pent up thoughts and ideas that have been taking up all it’s space.
Unfortunately, whether you’re a newcomer to the craft or even a long-time veteran, those wonderful emotions, can and are often pushed aside by the more sinister parts of our mind. For some, fear sets in early. Maybe you worry that you’re too old to be writing young adult fiction, maybe you think you’re just too old to get started writing at all. Will people reject your work, or will you hate it yourself? Who the hell wants to read what I have to say anyway? For others, the fear doesn’t show it’s canines until you’re done. You’ve just dotted your last i and crossed your last t. You take a short break and excitedly sit down to read over the days work only to find yourself riddled with doubt and worry. Is this any good? Did I do enough research; maybe I didn’t do enough?
If any writer tells you that they’ve never felt the fear, that they’ve never asked themselves these questions, or that they’ve never lost a little sleep over the thought of not pleasing their readers, they’re full of crap. (OK, maybe someone out there doesn’t get scared, but I’m not talking to you!) Luckily for us, fear is a natural emotion, it’s our body doing it’s damnedest to protect us. While it might feel crippling at first, you can turn fear around and wrestle it to the ground like the bully it is! I’d like to quickly address a few of these fears and offer a little insight into how you might go about grabbing the reigns of your emotions so that you can begin taking the steps that you and your potential readers deserve! While I’ll only be touching lightly on these topics, if you stick with me, I will do my best to cover them in depth at a later time.
I’m too old for this!
This is one of the easiest fears to overcome. I will help you with this one right now…. YOU ARE NOT TOO OLD. You’re never too old to write. That is one of the greatest parts of writing. So what, you didn’t start when you were a kid, you haven’t been writing for a decade. Do you have any idea how many successful authors got started at an older age….do you? I do! Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the famed Little House on the Prairie books didn’t begin writing until she was 44 and didn’t really make a name for herself until Little House in the Big Woods which she published at the age of 64! William S. Burroughs, of Naked Lunch fame, didn’t publish his first novel Junky until the age of 40. Charles Bukowski…49 when he first published. The list is quite lengthy so I will stop here, but you get the point. Age takes many things from us, but until the day you can’t think or pick a pen up, you can be an author. Even then, you can dictate!
Will anyone like what I write?
Of course they will! There is an audience for everything, and I will say with confidence, that if you write to your intended audience, with a knowledge of what that audience enjoys, then you can’t help but produce something entertaining! That point aside, you will NEVER know if anyone enjoys your writing until you write it and GIVE IT TO THEM. This is one of those fears, like a few of the others, that you just can’t get past until you do it. It’s like the first time you put your feet on the pedals of a bike and pray you don’t fall flat on your face. If you want to ride, you have to try. Luckily for you, the writers ride is a little less physically painful and the fear is all in your head. Granted, you don’t have training wheels, but who the hell wants training wheels! Give it a shot, take chances, write away and share it with the world. The worst anyone can do is not like it, and those aren’t the people you’re writing for anyway. Take the haters in stride and use their negativity to propel you in the write direction!
Did I do enough research?
This is one that I used to find myself fearing on a regular basis. I worried if my characters were believable enough in the time periods I put them in, or if my settings were descriptive enough. What if someone notices an inconsistency??? This is a logical one, friends! Do more research! If you’re too worried, Google away! Look at that, I even gave you the link. You’re half way there! Seriously though, one day I just decided I was going to learn EVERYTHING there was to know about the city life in 1850s Europe for a piece I was writing, and I couldn’t get enough. Not only did I end up with a thorough account in my story, but I was left with a wealth of knowledge about an interesting subject. Since then, my worries have diminished. Some people might think I over research, but for me, it’s become a way of life. I enjoy learning everything that I can, and I think you will too. The worst case scenario is that you learned more than you can use in your story, and are left with all kinds of goodies that may be helpful in another!
I know I haven’t covered nearly all the possible fears in this short post, but I have to leave something for you to come back to at another time. In the near future I will cover another list of fears, and see if we can’t get you over those humps and into some better story telling! Remember, if you aren’t writing, you may not have to deal with the fear, but you can’t benefit from all those amazing emotions that only stem from a finished work and a song of praise from your peers!
Write on Writers!