Dealing with Fear in Your Writing Life

Fear can cause writer’s block. It can chase you off the path. Being an author, or an artist for the matter, is…challenging. The past couple of months have been rough for me. Most days, I wonder why anyone would choose to be a writer. “Success” can take years. The fear sets in while you’re waiting.

  1. You’re not on the wrong path– You want to make a living off your books or, at the very least, sell enough to pay bills. You aren’t so you start to fear you’ve chosen the wrong path. Maybe you should quit. I’ve been searching for a job for months with no success. There’s little money coming in from book and photo sales. Often I’ve thought I should give up this writing/running my own business stuff and focus 100% on a “normal” career. Seems like a logical thing to do.

    I think of it this way, I have 11 published books and 8 years spent marketing my brand. All that will go to waste if I quit now. You put a lof of effort into publishing your book. Don’t quit because things aren’t going the way you expected.

    Besides, I’ve sold books and I’ve gotten great reviews. I’m just not selling as much as I would like. The writing life can be a pain but I love what I do. Just because the money is trickling, and I mean trickling, in doesn’t mean you chose the wrong path. This is normal. You’ve heard of the starving artist. It’s not just some romantic notion. It’s hard to earn a living from selling art. 

  2. Losing followers is normal Most of you know how much I love social media. Recently, I realized I’d gotten it in my head that I need to post every day, several times a day or I’d lose all of my followers. Turns out, that’s not true, not all the time.

    I used to tweet 5 times a day. I cut it back to 3 sometimes 2 and it made no difference. I’m active on Facebook but I don’t post as often as I used to. Didn’t change anything. Instagram is different, though. I skipped one day of posting and lost like 10 followers. I consoled myself by saying, if they jumped ship after one day then they weren’t that interested in my content and therefore, not my audience.

    I don’t particularly care about unfollowers anymore. I just unfollow them and move on. Don’t waste your bandwidth on them. Getting unfollowed is like getting a one-star review. It’s going to happen. It will suck but don’t stress too much over it. 

  3. Dark stories can lead to a dark imagination. Read something fluffy once in a while– When you write dark fiction, you’re, most of the time, torturing your characters physically and emotionally. That’s not something I ever get used to. I could write lighter stories but they aren’t as much fun.

    The problem with writing dark stories, at least for me, is I scare myself just by simply commuting into Manhatten, imagining all the bad things that could happen to my train. My dreams are really weird. I start thinking all these dark stories are messing with my mind and I need to stop.

    I combat this by taking breaks from reading and watching dark stuff. I’ll read a story with the right amount of fluff. Certain parts don’t often make sense but overall, the story is enjoyable and relaxing. I also have soothing sounds playing while I sleep. One of my favorite apps is Relaxing Melodies. Take a break from the dark stuff every now and them. 

  4. Don’t be afraid to dream big You hear often that it’s impossible to be a full-time author. so you don’t even try or you keep your dreams realistic. I have a habit of doing this, been trying to stop. When someone talks about how my book would make a great movie, my response is usually, “that’s not going to happen.” I didn’t dream of becoming a bestselling author because I knew the facts.

    I wasn’t being realistic. I was shielding myself from potential hurt. Those dreams aren’t impossible but they’re at the far end of possible. Right up there with winning a million dollars. There is nothing wrong with dreaming your book gets turned into a movie. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a bestselling author. It’s good to be realistic but that doesn’t mean your dream is out of reach. Look what happened to Fifty Shades of Grey. These days it’s not impossible to live off of your art but it can take years, a lot of work and a great deal of planning. 

I didn’t include fear of rejection/negative reviews on purpose. I also thought of adding fear of my upcoming book not selling. I haven’t sold a book in months. I’m not afraid of that anymore. Between my writing, photography and design, I’ve been rejected so often I’ve gotten used to it. Rejection and no sales still hurt but I’m not afraid of them. They come with this life.

There is always hope.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” J. K. Rowling

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