Recently, I read a helpful article from Jerry Jenkins called How To Maximize Your Writing Time. The first thing he addressed was FEAR. He stated that fear can either be turned into motivation or procrastination and then paralysis.
A good way to deal with fear is to face it and to address the lies behind it. So, here is my list of fears and how I deal with them. Maybe you can relate:
1. I am afraid all the effort and time I am putting into writing will be for nothing because nobody will ever read my stories or benefit from them.
Ouch. I am cringing even as I write this. So, how could I know if my novel or blog will be accepted by a larger audience? How can I tell if it's any good? I dream about influencing a generation with my writing, but will it ever happen? So I question myself and wonder if I should be investing my time into something more useful instead.
Here is my remedy:
#1 Write for yourself, write for fun
Even if others won't read my posts or books, there is always one person who benefits - me. Creative writing is an outlet for my thoughts. Personal journaling is never a wasted time because it helps me clear the mind and become more grounded, focused, motivated. And the whole process of laying down the story of the novel and letting my imagination run with it is pure fun. So, if nobody ever looks at my scribbles, I would still write for myself.
#2 Write for a specific person you care about
I can also write for somebody I personally know to motivate, encourage, lift up or entertain them. I always express myself better on paper than in conversation. Each story can be dedicated to a friend or a family member. For example, the children's story I want to write can be a present for my own kids. If they like it - that's good enough. Anything beyond that is extra.
#3 Personalize your reader - write for "the one"
I can make it my goal to reach at least one person with my writing. Before I sit down to start writing something new, I can first determine who my reader will be and what kind of need will be addressed with my writing. Then afterward, it's in God's hands to connect this person with my post or book. I should do what I can to spread the word and not stress about it.
2. I am afraid my writing will never be good enough because I don't have the talent to be a writer.
Oh, boy. This is a hard one. I have read lots of great books that sucked me in, made me skip food during the day, and cut on sleep at night. How can I measure up?
I recently started re-reading Jack London's White Fang (because my kids are reading it!), and all I could think of was: "This is so good. I don't know if I can ever write like this." So, I question myself and wonder if it's worth the effort to even try. Maybe, I am not cut out to be a writer. All I see are my limitations. Don't I need a special talent or at least a degree in creative writing? Plus, I already missed so many years. It's too late now.
Here is my remedy:
#1 Writing is a skill that can be learned
Listening to other writers and their journey is helping me with this one. I keep hearing that writing is a set of skills. All I need is an active imagination, which every single person has. Everything else can be acquired. For some, the process of creative writing is harder than for others, but it is still a learnable skill. Even if English is my second language, I know that with the right tools I can get better.
#2 Yes, the world needs one more book - yours
Every person is unique and every writer is unique. I might never be as good as other writers, but I will be the best me. What I can give, nobody else can. I have my own insight, perspective, experience. I have my own unique voice - I just need to find it. Somebody out there needs to hear what I have to say. Nobody else can do it the way I can.
3. I am afraid that I will be working on my book for the rest of my life and will never get it polished adequately for publishing.
In the same article I mentioned above, Jerry Jenkins quoted his former publisher, Michael Hyatt who said that perfectionism is the mother of procrastination. Bullseye! I never looked at it that way, but my fear of not measuring up to a perfect writing standard (that exists only in my head) stops me from moving forward.
Is anybody else's chapter one the most edited in the novel? I find myself stuck on it every time I go back to edit because I just can't get it perfect enough. This prevents me from working on the rest of my book. If I don't feel like I got it just right, how will a reader like it? And every time I learn something new about creative writing, I want to go back again and fix things. It is like a never-ending process. It kills my motivation because I can't see the finish line.
Here is my remedy:
#1 Keep writing regularly
The only way I get better at something is if I keep doing it. Today I am a better writer than five years ago, and five years from now, I will be even better if (and only if) I keep practicing the skill.
In my busy life, I need to schedule a weekly time for writing. Sometimes I even set aside a few days to help me focus and delve deeper into the writing process. I also like to give myself deadlines as I work better under pressure.
Jerry Jenkins mentioned that for years he was writing daily for several hours after his family would go to sleep, and that's when he had to get up early for work. Despite his consistent efforts, Left Behind, which brought him wide recognition, was his 125th book. Many other authors had a similar experience.
The moral of the story - don't give up.
#2 Find other people to support you
Writing is no longer a lonely endeavor. Yes, when I write, I like to be alone with my thoughts. But at other times, I find support from others very helpful. My husband and kids are my biggest cheerleaders as well as a few other family members and friends. They were the first ones to read my books and encourage me when I had doubts.
Finding other writers to share with was the best thing ever. We exchange feedback, cheer each other up, and share new discoveries and resources. There are plenty of support groups for writers online that can be joined, such as Jerry's Guild, Self-Publishing School, Beta Readers, and others.
# Build a team
Writing process is teamwork. It takes beta readers, editors, and cover designers to name a few. Of course, I can do lots of different things by myself, but delegating to experts helps me focus on what matters most and produces that best results. Let others support you on your journey.
What are your fears and how do you deal with them? Please, share them. Maybe I can help.