FEAR. It paralyzes, it keeps us from trying something new and/or fun. It keeps us locked in our houses and minds.
First, FEAR of rejection. Yep, I think even published authors have this fear. Simply because the industry is experiencing so many changes right now. We’re sending our “babies” out there into the world. Unattended. We’re sending our work to agents, editors, magazines or just self-publishing. We FEAR others won’t like our work. We FEAR someone will send back our manuscript with red streaks and notes all over it. Or even worse, at least for me, is FEAR of rejection by the non-response. I’d rather have you make notes in the biggest red sharpie you can find than not hear from you. I liken this to asking out that one guy (or girl) you’ve had your eye on for weeks or months or however long. You know you’ll forever kick yourself if you don’t at least try, but you dread that potential look of revulsion and the rejection from this object of your dreams or desires.
Next, FEAR of acceptance. Wait, FEAR of acceptance? That doesn’t make sense. Sure it does. We sent that manuscript out with the highest hopes of someone accepting it and wanting to publish it because they love it. Now, how do we keep this going? Will the next manuscript be just as good or better? Can I make it by the deadline this publisher/agent/editor just gave me? Why did I send it out in the first place? See, FEAR of acceptance can lead to FEAR of the unknown. Which will kill our creativity and make all those FEARS come true.
Last, FEAR of not being good enough. After receiving enough rejections, most people will naturally start to doubt their own abilities. This FEAR can stop us from not only sending our work out into the world, but also stop us from writing all together. This just might be the worst type of fear. It can lead to destructive self image and loathing. It’s definitely a creativity killer.My first thought for this was the person you see constantly having plastic surgery or excessively working out because they FEAR they’re no longer good enough to keep their spouse/significant other interested.
So how do we as writers, and humans, overcome these FEARS? It really is a simple answer – though the implementation is a little tougher. FACE THEM. ACKNOWLEDGE THEM. Looking back, I did some pretty bone headed things in high school. I asked a guy out that I knew would flat our reject me. I did it anyway because I knew I’d keep obsessing over it if I didn’t. Guess what? The rejection sucked and I felt like a total idiot because he rejected me in front of a group of the “popular, pretty” girls. After that happened, I stopped obsessing over it and was finally able to move on. And that’s the key. We can move on once we acknowledge the fear, then face it. The only power fear has is the power we give it.
Do I still fear rejection? You betcha! But I also know from past experience that it drives me to be a better writer. Do I fear being accepted? Absolutely! A standard has been set and now I have to strive to be better. Do I still fear not being good enough? About once a week. I make mistakes, but I also try to learn from them. There are some fantastic writers out there and I fear I’ll never be as good as they are. I also know that they are their own person, I am my own. As long as I continually try to be better than myself, that’s all that really matters in the end.