If you are afraid to write, then don’t.
If you are afraid to submit, then don’t.
If you are afraid to publish, then don’t.
You’re getting in the way of the glut of writers out there who’ve decided fear is not an option.
I get riled at many programs, classes, and blog posts that tell you magically how to overcome fear, how to make yourself do any of the writing tasks required of a serious writer. If a writer has to pay someone else to remove that fear, then chances are that fear will return after payment has been rendered and the writer is left alone again. In other words, when the crutch is gone, the writer flounders again, seeking someone, something, some entity that will prop him up again and hold his hand to the finish line. When the motivation ought to organically come from within.
I’m not making light of the fear involved in this profession. We bare our hearts and souls to strangers then hold our arms open for the potential lashing. Yes, it’s hard. Everything that tests us, challenges us, or strengthens us is an obstacle, and in the end, we are the only ones that can decide to dig in, overcome, and make it happen.
So when I see the titles that say something like “How to get over the fear of publishing,” . . . I get mad. The lone writer is the only soul who can fix fear. By himself. By herself. Alone in front of that screen. Alone with pen and paper struggling through the action of writing. If you have to have someone continually stroke you to keep going, this is not the profession for you.
Learn a lesson, tuck it into your tool box, and move on. Reach inside yourself and make your own decision to improve, submit, publish. At the end of the day, you are the only one left standing to make the decision on where to take your writing.
This job is lonely. The only way you can get inside your head and tap those luscious words that sell is to be alone, edit alone, submit alone. You make the choices. You make the changes. You make the long-term decision to stick this crap out and make it happen.
At the moment I hear a hundred voices shouting “But…” followed by their individual reasons for why their situation is so much harder than someone else’s. It doesn’t matter. And frankly, nobody cares how hard it is for you. Publishers want a good story. Readers want a good story. Nobody gives a darn what it took for you to make it happen.
While this editorial might raise the blood pressure of a few readers, so be it. Face reality. Writing is not a group effort. Sure, you hire people or sign contracts with others along the way, even thinking an agent is your life vest, but the bottom line is that you pen the words.
This is all on you. We all like the pat on the back and the positive reinforcement. That’s human nature. But if you need someone petting you on the head every day to keep going, maybe this isn’t the job for you. There are too many others out there who show up everyday to make their dream happen. And they left their mommas in the other room.
BIO – C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolina Slade Mysteries and The Edisto Island Mysteries, with Bridge Books. She has edited FundsforWriters.com for 16 years. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com