How do writers overcome their fear

I was browsing through WordPress’s Reader when I stumbled upon a post that made me think.

In that post, the writer said he/she had been writing for 30 years, but had yet to take the leap and show her work to anyone. Near the end of the post the writer wondered how do writers manage to put our work out in the open, where the rest of the world can see it.

Speaking for myself here, it wasn’t too long ago when I had the same question in my head. The same question and of course the same fear. How would I ever show my work to complete strangers? Even worse, how would I ever show my work to those I knew personally? What if they didn’t like it? What if they laughed at me? Even if they didn’t laugh, how would I ever face them again, knowing that they didn’t like my work or that they merely said they liked it in order not to hurt my feelings?

So what’s the driving force that helps a writer to overcome similar fears? I think the answer to this comes down to a lot of factors.

First, and always speaking for myself, one has to take into account the role of vanity. Vanity for doing something not many others do. Vanity for potentially succeeding into something not many people do. Vanity, because if we do succeed, then our names will be known and fans will flock to us. Yeah, I know that’s almost never the case for writers, but before reality strikes, while we’re still wet behind the ears, such thoughts are too familiar. C’mon, admit it, fellow writers. I don’t know if the word indulge is the right one, but we do like the idea. We like the idea of talking to someone and telling them that we’re writers, so we can hear, “really?! A writer?! Wow!” It’s like writers are a bunch of mythical creatures that populate local folk tales and all of the sudden, boom! One stands right before people’s eyes. Everyone knows writers exist… somewhere, but people don’t often encounter them. I think we like that feeling. It plays well with vanity, don’t you think? So that’s one way to do things.

Then there’s this mindset: what’s the worst thing that can happen if I get rejected? I think this is a healthy way of seeing things, because once we understand this, once we accept this as reality, then we know that the worst thing to happen will be to receive a form rejection letter. I think the world will keep on existing, the Earth will keep on spinning, and people’s everyday lives will carry on regardless of the rejection. Rejection letters carry a weight, but they’re not that powerful to mess with someone’s life. So, basically, we just take the plunge. It’s a leap of faith. And we have faith to ourselves. It may sound that there’s something missing, some secret I haven’t told you, but the truth is we just do it. That’s another way.

Then there are those who firmly believe that only good things can come from rejections: we can improve (very important) and we can develop a tougher skin for such things (equally important). All one has to do, is send their work for the first time. You’ll probably say, “easier said than done.” You’re right. But if you take for granted that when you first start out you’ll get rejected, if get into that mindset (I know it comes natural to me since I’m a pessimist), then sending a query to a magazine or an agent or a publisher simply becomes a formality like any other we go through in our daily lives. Have you never had to ask for something in your workplace only to get rejected? When you hear or read the word NO, don’t you carry on with your task at hand, your daily lives? Does it diminish you, as a person, in any way? Most likely not. How’s querying for a story any different? If you had asked your supervisor/co-worker in a different way, if you had pushed your proposal differently, would that have helped? If yes, wouldn’t you try again? And again? Isn’t that the same thing for a writer? That’s a third way of

Keep in mind that it only takes one person to say yes to your work. Just one. One person to believe in you. It might as well be you. You’re a good start 😉

Lastly, the way I see it, for writers, only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and rejection. Once we accept that, how much can a little rejection affect us? How much should it affect us? At the end of the day, if you want to avoid getting rejected, improve your craft. Make it stellar! The means are within your grasp, folks! There’s not much we can do about death and taxes, but we can certainly battle our fear for rejection. In fact, it may very well be the only one of the three that is not able to control us. Fear of rejection is not as strong as we often make it to be.

Learning new things

*Disclaimer: I’m in the mood for gifs today, so you’ll get a few of them with this post*

Being self published doesn’t always mean you have to do everything on your own, but sometimes circumstances force you to do so.

As I mentioned earlier, my debut post apocalyptic horror novel, The Darkening, will be launched near the end of the year, probably around late October or early November. For that, I have hired an editor (all edits are now done) and am waiting to hear back from my designer. Unfortunately, his busy schedule doesn’t allow him to start working on my project before July. So after I dealt with these two very important parts of the production of a book, I thought that would be it. I’d upload the manuscript on each platform, and all I’d have to do between then and the launch date would be to promote it.

Ermm, how about no?

It turned out that I had forgotten another important bit: internal formatting.

What in the name of dark hell was that?!

I had spent virtually all my (meagre) budget on the editor and I would spend the remaining on the designer. In fact, after reviewing my budget, I realised I had nothing left for promotion!

So the first thought was: is internal formatting something I can skip?

Apparently no. Well, I could, but that would interfere with the quality of the product I wanted to produce.

Now, I know that Amazon has created a Word plugin that creates a basic template for all the available printing options they provide, including trim size. But the problem for me was that this plugin only works on newer versions of Word, you know, the ones with the ugly ribbon menu thing its creators decided to introduce?

Yeah, how about no?

Like many other writers out there, I refuse to work on something with a UI (user interface) that is non-configurable based on my needs. If you think that I’m the only weirdo around the writing realms, think again!

You tell ’em, George!

So since the Word version I work with (2003, if you’re wondering) could not use that plugin and I could not outsource the task, I had to figure out how to format my book on my own. And I did. Partly… Sort of… Kind of…

Enter InDesign. Luckily a friend lent me an older version of the program to test and try out just for this project. And surprisingly enough, if one who knows nothing about internal formatting or InDesign wishes to use it to create simple interior book designs, then it won’t take more than a couple of days to learn it. Thank Youtube for that!

So I managed to create a decent printable copy of my manuscript, and I now have a fraction of a basic understanding of how to use the program. It’s definitely in my to-buy list, even though I know I will only be using a tiny fraction of its capabilities.

Now if I could only figure out a way to make it create a decent epub version without messing everything up, I’d be one step closer to world domination!

 

Crutch words – ANGRY (part 2)

This is the second part of my list of ANGRY synonyms. You can find part one here. I have to admit, while researching for these, I often had to pause and double-check (and sometimes triple-check) that they were in fact still in use or that they actually meant what I was looking for. Bellicose and Churlish are two of the words I had never seen before, but then again, I’m not a native English speaker, so that may be the reason.

Keep in mind that each synonym, is just that; a synonym. It doesn’t always work as a replacement, because each word carries a meaning of its own. So before you substitute all instances of angry with any of these or from part one, make sure it’s the right one.

Crutch words – ANGRY (part 1)

For a writer, drafting a story is all about putting all the thoughts down on paper (or virtual paper) as fast as possible. Often, if not always, this comes at a price. Drafts are messy. They often make us cringe when we read them. Why? For many reasons, but one of them is because we use words that are always the same boring ones, which most of the times break one of the sacred rules of writing: show, don’t tell. One such word is ANGRY. Below is a small list (more words to follow in the coming weeks) of synonyms that we can use instead. As is always the case with synonyms, each word carries a unique inherent meaning, so even though each is a synonym to angry, they don’t always serve as a replacement. Make sure you’re absolutely certain that the word you’re about to use carries the meaning you have in mind.

You can read part two here.

On a side note, I think I have failed miserably in my attempt to make the colour of the word angry like that of Hulk’s. Not only that, but the font is wrong. *sigh* It shows how little I know about typography and how much I have to work on it.

Crutch words – WENT (part 2)

You didn’t think I forgot part 2 for this crutch word, did you? In case you missed part 1 you can find it here.

When we draft our stories, we want to get them out as fast as possible. Which tends to make things sloppy and messy. Non-writers, don’t get us wrong. It’s a need all writers have; get the story out of our heads immediately. Unfortunately, this comes at a price.

Crutch words.

When we finish our first draft, we haven’t exactly “written” anything. Technically, we have, but practically, well… it’s not readable. When we draft a story, what we’re really doing is putting our thoughts down. Writing comes after we’re finished with the first draft. That’s when we have to turn our drafts into something that won’t hurt the eyes (or the minds) of our readers. Part of this process involves removing crutch words.

One such crutch word is the past tense of the verb go (went). We love using it (and other crutch words), because it’s always available and it does the job. The thing is, readers want more than a word that just does the job. The problem with went is that it’s not descriptive enough. And so, we have a huge list of synonyms to consider. Below, is a small list of some of the available synonyms for WENT. Keep in mind that every synonym has a meaning of its own, so make sure you use the right word. And yes, I know there are more synonyms available. I will cover those in future posts.