What’s Stopping You?

Happy Monday, SE Readers. Joan here today. This post is directed more toward beginning writers, although many of us can relate to the subject matter.

If you read Craig’s post last week, he shared a bit about how he came to be a writer later in life. Like him, I waited a long time to fulfill my dream of becoming a published author even though I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was ten years old.

What stopped me? Fear.

Fear of sharing my work with others. Fear that I would never be good enough. Fear that people won’t like what I write. If someone rejects my work, does that make me a failure?

Fear can cripple us and stifle our creativity. But once I took that first step, which was more like a leap of faith, my fears began to diminish. And when I finally became a published author, I knew I wanted to do things to help and encourage others. I realize there are some out there who want to write, but like I once was are afraid to take the plunge.

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” (Dale Carnegie)

I’ll be the first to admit that my fears didn’t magically disappear when my first article appeared on a group blog. Nor did they go away when I submitted a short story to a publisher. New questions and doubt arose. “Are you sure this is what you want to do? Are you ready to open up a new world and leave your comfort zone?”

“Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.” (Charles Stanley)

My first published works were non-fiction, but my deepest desire was to write fiction. And with that brought another fear—the fear of finishing. It took too many years (yes years) for me to write and publish my first novel. And when I uploaded my first novella to Amazon, I was shaking when I hit the publish button.

But, to quote Nike, the only way to stop fear is to “Just do it.”

As with any endeavor, part of becoming a writer is to take risks. We have to leave behind the safety net and step out into the unknown.  A few years ago, friend and fellow author, Chris Morris, said, “The cost of holding on to my art is greater than the cost of sharing it.”

If you are a new writer, or a want-to-be writer, consider these words:

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” (Henry Ford)

For those of you who have been in this writing world for a while, I’d love to hear about some of your fears. Tell us how you overcame them. Let’s encourage an up and coming writer today.

And if you’re a new writer who is afraid to take the next step, what’s stopping you?

 

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40 thoughts on “What’s Stopping You?

  1. That was a very inspiring piece and not being a writer myself, I always wanted to write something. But I am scared, because I don’t think I am literate enough as I missed a great deal of my education, which I now regret, but we can’t go through life with regrets getting the better of us. Also I’m scared of people reading my stuff and don’t know where to start. My life has not been very exiting, not at all, so what would I write about anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Everyone is different, but the best advice I can give you is to just start writing. Don’t worry about content, punctuation, etc. Just get your words on paper (or the computer screen.) Keep a journal. I used to worry about being literate because I don’t have a college degree. Know what? It doesn’t matter. If you decide you want to become a published writer, there are a number of websites and online classes that can help teach you the craft of writing, as well as a number of books on the trade. Also, a good editor is a must. Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links |

  3. This is a great inspirational post, Joan! I think there are many stages of fear as we move through our writing journey. First to conquer is fear of someone else reading what we write and lambasting it. Then it’s the fear to submit to someone of “authority” (magazine editor, agent, publisher). Then it’s the fear of what happens if someone likes it and I have to do more. But I also think as we move through the stages, the more times we conquer each stage, the more we accept the fear as part of the process. We can acknowledge it and move past it more easily once we understand that we’ll always have it with us. (and I agree, if there is no fear, something is amiss 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for a wonderfully inspirational post, Joan. I think fear is a constant companion that writers learn to live with. Sometimes we have more control over it than at others, but I don’t think it ever goes away completely. I’m currently second-guessing myself (thanks to fear) on my 10th novel/WIP. You would think by now I’d be able to kick fear goodbye, but that’s not the case. By the same token, I think we build confidence with each release we make. That may seem paradoxical, but the two seem to go hand-in-hand.

    For a new author taking the first step of publication, it’s a scary time, but the reward is worth all the nail-biting-anxiety-riddled moments!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I remember when I first uploaded my first novella I walked around all day asking myself what I had done. But it was good experience for publishing more later. Overcoming my own apprehensions was big in the beginning but still reats it’s head at times and must be faced to proceed as a writer. Thanks for the excellent post today, Joan!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Great post, Joan.

    I’m not sure that fear ever goes away. I know my fear hasn’t. Every blog post, every short story, every novella or novel, I worry about. I don’t know why; I don’t know anyone personally who will make my life miserable if the work is an abject failure. (And I think the only way we grow is to experiment, so I’m sure I’ll have failures.) It’s just hard putting myself out there. But I do it. And I’m glad I do, because I’ve “met” so many wonderful people because I overcame that fear.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I just replied to Harmony that I think not having fears means we need to do a reality check. And I’m happy that I finally decided to put my work out there. We’ll always have people who don’t like our writing, but that’s life. And like you, I’ve “met” a lot of wonderful people in this writing journey.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for your words of inspiration. I started writing in my late 40’s; not so much because of fear, but because of responsibilities. I was the main breadwinner for many years. My wife went back to college, one son graduated from college and my youngest is a junior. I’ve reached the point in my life where it’s almost my time. I don’t regret one minute of waiting. My wife, and kids are doing great. I have a book being published, that I’ve been working on and off for seven long years. It’s called, “Simple Observations.” Hopefully it will be out in the next few months. I am a little bit afraid of failure, but I can handle it. Your words helped. Thanks again, and take care.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Patrick, I’m glad my post helped you. One thing I vowed to myself is that when I became a published author, I wanted to help new and upcoming ones. Your comment confirmed that I’m on the right track. Congratulations on your upcoming book!. There are always those who won’t like our writing, but I’m confident you’ll find the right audience. Thanks for visiting today.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Great post, Joan. Even with 8 books published now, I still feel scared every launch time, lols! I don’t think it will go away, but we do learn to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Great post, Joan. There is a lot of fear and self doubt in this business. Some let it hold them back. Some forge ahead. Putting ourselves out there is the only way to improve. It’s that journey of improvement that I’m in it for.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great post. I remember the fear of submitting to publishers and agents way back in 1998. Doing that for about 14 years kind of broke the terror. Replaced it with frustration and despair though since nothing ever came from it. Another source of stoppage is complacency. Not sure if that’s the right word though. It’s the belief that you keep writing and someone will find you. I did that for a while because I believed people who said I’d eventually find an agent or publisher without doing more than submitting. It was a ‘safe’ rut that felt like progress, so maybe fear of trying to go outside of the standard path was a factor too.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Hi Joan!
    Thank you for this post, it was exactly what I needed to read right now. I’ve just moved the first steps towards the publication of my first novel and I’m pretty scared.
    I don’t think this kind of fear goes away at some point, we can learn to deal with it though. When I feel sick at the idea of sharing my stories with the world, I think that at worst, if it’s bad, they are going to ignore me. And somehow this is comforting.

    Liked by 4 people

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