July 17, 2013

Writing Club Wednesday: What Are Your Writerly Fears?

Today I want to talk about something we all face in the creative process: writerly fears.
No matter where we are in our manuscripts, our revisions, or our publishing journeys, there’s always some form of self-doubt and “what-ifs” that we’ll have to power through along the way.

And this, my friends, is perfectly normal.

I wrote my first manuscript pretty fearlessly, because I knew nothing about the publishing process or how serious I’d eventually be about pursuing it. I just knew I had an English degree I’d never utilized and an idea in my head, and I was going to use both of those things to create a novel, damn it. And then I was going to cross my fingers and hope for beginners luck a la Stephenie Meyer. *snort*
The more I buckled down, the more I learned, and the more I fell in love with writing again, the scarier the process became. Once the goal was real, so was the fear of failure. That’s when the what-ifs settled in like unwanted house guests:

What if I can’t finish this manuscript?

What if I *can* finish it, but it turns out horrible?

What if it doesn’t turn our horrible at all, but I write a god-awful query letter that makes it *sound* horrible?

What if I don’t get any requests from agents?

What if I get requests, but none of them turn into offers?

What if everything I ever write is the same cycle all over again and I never get anywhere, ever?

As it turned out, my second manuscript did land me an agent, but that doesn’t mean my days of worrying are over. Not by a long shot. My fears have evolved, but they’ll never disappear. To this day, I’m still terrified that:

-          I won’t or can’t finish the projects I start, due either to time constraints or lack of inspiration. Yes, even after finishing 3-1/2 manuscripts.

-          That if I do finish, the end result will be lacking

-          That my stories will be different names and faces and settings, but interchangeable dialogue, emotions, and reactions.This is a big one for me. It’s kind of terrifying to figure out how to write not just a different story, but a different book. Nonetheless, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Last but not least, I will cop to the fear that I believe all aspiring authors share: What if, after all my hard work, I never wind up getting published?
Of course, if and when a book deal does come about, it will bring with it a fresh wave of concerns. What if my book tanks? What if I never write anything publication-worthy again? Krista van Dolzer did a great post about that here.

In short, there will always be something – but eventually you have to do this to your fears...

… or they’ll wind up getting the better of you.

 So tell me, peeps – what are YOUR biggest writerly fears?


Yael said...

That someone will turn my book into a musical.

Messi Jessi said...

I've been grappling with this lately. 25k and scrapping all of it to reformat and fix the setting. Back at the bottom of the mountain. It's daunting. The fear of the rewrites and revisions that seem endless, and the reward seems too far to even taste it.
You're right, the more you know about the publishing industry, the scarier it is to write. That's what scares me the most, I think. Knowing everything that goes into a novel, if this story is good enough, or not marketable. Putting your time and energy into project that end up being tucked away because you missed the wave.
Too many unknown variables. Even though I'm a better writer these days, I miss the days I could just write and not be bogged down by everything. But that's the tricky part, writing anyways (I'm doing it!).

Gina said...

My biggest fear is that I am actually completely horrible and all the "helpful" notes have just been sugar-coated insults that I'm too daft to see and nobody who doesn't like me personally will ever take the time to tell me otherwise and therefore I will never succeed at this publishing thing.

You know.

The usual.

Emma Adams said...

Argh, writerly fears are the bane of my existence. It's all I can do to silence the voices and keep writing in the face of adversity! I think my anxieties have increased proportionately to my increasing knowledge of how difficult it is to get into the industry!

Nikki Diehm said...

UGHHHHHHHH FEARS! Not finishing (again...) is always in the back of my mind. The usual, of course. Good post!

Rachel said...

Before, it was that I'd never get an agent. Now I have one and we're getting ready to start submitting. Weird thing is, I'm not worried it won't sell. I'm worried the readers will hate it and slash it to pieces on Goodreads and Amazon. I'm worried the second book in the series won't be as good. I know I'm skipping the whole, "Will it ever even make it to the shelves?" thing, but for some reason I skipped that part. Just wait till it's actually on submission and getting rejected. I'm sure I'll change my tune then. ;)

Laura Rueckert said...

Funny how sometimes the fears are background noise that are easy to ignore and sometimes overwhelming. A selection of my many are:
-What if my CPs are just being nice but really, I'll never get anywhere?
-What if my pitch is better than the actual ms?
-What if my writing never improves enough regardless of how much I read/write/get feedback/edit?
-What if I invest so much time and energy and tears into writing and never get an agent? (I'm not even considering what might *never* happen later)
-What if my family realizes I'm not ever going to make money and gets sick of the time I spend writing?
-What if my YAs are too NA, but not NA enough to be NA? (dizzy yet?)
-What if I manage a good first book in my series but everyone hates the follow up?

I'd better stop now. Bringing myself down.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Rachel. I'd always been afraid I'd never get an agent. Now that I have one--and have just turned in my very first manuscript to her--I'm afraid that:
A) She won't like it.
B) She won't sell it.
C) That even if she does, it will tank.

Makes me want to crawl under the covers and curl up in a ball.

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