“Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.” -Luvvie Ajayi Jones
As a writer, as an author, you will always have to wrestle apprehension. It is definitely wresting, and you will have to reckon with it. Any time, and every time, you start something new, there will be this feeling of unease! Yet, it is just that–a feeling!
No matter how big the problem or feeling is, you are always bigger than the problem!
When dealing with the apprehension that deals with book writing, remember to be gentle with yourself. Remember to celebrate along the way. Give yourself positive affirmations like these:
I am going to do as best I can today.
I am going to write as best I can today.
I am going to make this idea a reality because I can.
My idea is going to be a great book and I am going to write it!
The apprehension is normal. The uncertainty is normal. Even the fear is normal! But what you must know is fear is an emotion that makes you pay attention because you are uncertain–it’s a warning! Accept the warning, pay attention to it. Proceed with caution. How, you ask? Write through it. Subdue it with your pen and imagination.
All the talent in the world will not insulate you from moments of doubt. The best well written outline will not save you from doubt. All the writing challenges, writing sprints and applications for NaNoWriMo will not save you from doubt.
But here is something that you need to not just understand, but to know: a doubt unchecked becomes a rooted fear.
A doubt–unchecked–becomes a rooted fear.
As a creative person, especially a writer, you will encounter these moments where the words won’t come, or they cannot come. These types of doubts are normal. However, when the doubts which are not worked through become fears.
A fear in something irrational, or unproven in some cases.
In the years by which I have been at this craft, learning and trying to do it better, the main three fears which occur in the life of writers are can be summed up here:
1.) Fear of Launching.
2.) Fear of Criticism.
3.) Fear of Vision.
Let me explain a little further.
The Fear of Launching will run the space out of a computer, jump drive or notebook. It will keep you second guessing, nervous and believing it is good enough to just write! This fear will keep you as a hamster on a wheel.
How you defeat this: Write and begin to share you work. Find a writing group. Find a free platform. If you are a minority writer, these writer groups are essential. Writing in community helps.
The Fear of Criticism will send keep you thinking that you work will have no audience. That you will not be successful. This fear will paralyze your talent: it will stop you from writing or sharing your work! This fear will be apparent especially in the beginning–and must be handled afresh with every project.
How you defeat this: Write. Write scared. Write everything that you think you want to read! Remember these two quotes.
“If there is a book you want to read, you must write it.” -Toni Morrison
“A real writer can write anything.” -Christopher Priest
Write because you know you can.
The Fear of Vision will keep you from branching out into the world. It will keep you stifled and stymied into a genre either you want to change, or expand. As a writer, you must become comfortable in seeing what other people cannot see. Don’t be afraid of what you see, or want to see! That is the nature of this craft–we create what we see, that other people can’t see, in order to make the world is little bigger or smaller.
How to confront this: Write what you want to write, and not what other people tell you to write. Find the genre that makes you happy, that speaks to you, and write what you want. Write the things you want to see.
I am of a certain age to remember when all grades were scrawled on notebook paper in fire red ink. I remember turning in papers, essays or other miscellaneous homework with the hope that the spillage of ink on those sacrificed papers would be at a minimum. It would be with deep offense when I would see something that I worked so hard on be bled all over.
If you’re honest, this may be one of the reasons why you shy away from (if not outright avoid) submitting work. To blogs. To websites. Even to starting a blog. It is that fear that someone may not like something that you worked on, poured into may not be suitable to their palette.
I am here to remind you to two things: criticism and critique are invaluable. Here is why:
Criticism. Completely suggestive. Helps to build the vital thing you will need as writer: THICK SKIN. There are few rules in writing, and I speak of them often. They relate to spelling, grammar and those related mechanics. These are the unavoidables. These are the things you have to master in order to write or speak any language. They are unavoidable. It is the content where the thick of your problem comes. There are those whom will love, hate–or worse yet–not ‘get’ what you’ve written. Any criticism is good–people are reading your stuff! However, in the threads of this criticism, you cannot allow the negative (even hateful) portions of the criticism to take root in your heart. Not every criticism is meant to break you. Some are meant to improve upon what is already there. Constructive criticism builds! It wants you to be better! Malicious criticism tells you want you cannot do, and may never be equipped to do.
Critique. These are similar to criticism, but focus on what is written. Not everything is for everyone. The faith of your talent cannot rest in what other people think of it. As a woman, a writer, and a writer whom is a woman of color, I have faced this more than once–before my skin got thick. I had to remember that what I write isn’t for everyone–and that too has to be okay. It must be okay!
Feedback for writers is and will remain a touchy subject! Stephen King almost didn’t publish Carrie! Anne Rice couldn’t find a market for Interview With A Vampire right off. Langston Hughes contended with his aunt about his writing career. Laurel K. Hamilton when she began writing the Anita Blake series was criticized for her work–about how out the box it is and was.
The point being that writing is what you make it. It is art and craft. It will always be of some contention. Someone somewhere will have something to say about it, not like it, not know how to classify it. They may even hate your manuscript as what happened to JK Rowling. This cannot stop you. The red ink cannot become a grave or a paralytic!
For the people that don’t dig your stuff, there will be someone that will. That wishes they had something newer, fresher to read. Sometimes writers have to be their own advocates. You have to toughen up, sharpen your skills and above all write.