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Fears and Anxieties of a Writing Career...

by S. Eliza Gregory 2 years ago in career

And how to fight back!

It may seem silly to have fears and anxieties over a dream that you have had your whole life, but it's true... we all have them. We may not realize that we have them. But let me tell you, they are there, and they are real. They lurk in the darkest recesses, waiting for the most inopportune moments to pounce. The best weapon I've found to use against them, it simply to be aware of their existence. Acknowledge the fear, accept that it's there and that's usually half of the battle.

Have you ever really looked at the face of a spider? I mean REALLY looked? Chances are, you haven't. Let's just say that when you start to magnify a spider's face... it isn't quite as scary as it once was. I use them as an example, because I'm not the biggest fan of them myself, but once you look at the creature for what it truly is—it isn't so scary.

Use the same tactic with your fears. Acknowledge them, look at them, examine their inner workings, and you'll find that most of them are irrational, highly improbable, or not that extreme. So this is me, taking a good hard look at my fears and anxieties of being a writer.

What if I'm not successful?

The first thought was, 'what if I'm not successful?' I've dreamed about being a writer my whole life. Well, I take that back. I did write as a kid but I didn't realize I wanted to do it for a living until the later years of my high school career. That was a huge wake-up call for me. Before that, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a little bit of everything—astronaut, storm chaser, vet, singer (even though I can't sing), professional soccer player (even though I didn't play soccer), etc. So, to say it's been a dream my whole life is probably not true even though it was something I've done my whole life.

So what if I'm not successful? I've only spent over a decade chasing a dream. Okay... Yea, it's a little scary but with enough hard work, commitment, and dedication, anything can happen. Besides, people have varying definitions of success. Am I looking to be a millionaire? No. I'd love to replace my day job with income from my writing. Being a successful writer to me would mean earning enough to travel as I please and live comfortably. I'm not looking to build my own hotel chain.

Specifying exactly what I want my "successful" writer's life to look like, helps take that 'improbability' factor out of the run. And now, not being successful isn't an option. Success is only a matter of time.

What if people hate my writing?

Well, you can't make everyone happy. Too many of us try to spend our lives making other people happy. It sounds like a great and noble thing but the point is- it's your life and you need to make yourself happy first. Don't constantly worry about what other people do, think, or say about you (or anything else!). There are over seven billion people on the planet. There's bound to be at least one that doesn't like you, and there's also bound to be at least one who does. There's a healthy balance. Haters are going to hate. Don't take everything they say to heart. Most times, they are just jealous of you anyway. Even JK Rowling had haters.

What if I really suck?

Then the only way to go is up! You're never going to be a master of writing. It is a craft that we all work so hard at but no one perfects it. There's always going to be mistakes. Don't be afraid to make them. And when you do make them, learn from them. So what if my writing really does suck? I think we all have this thought in the back of our minds even if we really like writing and have faith in ourselves. Sometimes we have doubts. I think that's natural... even if it does sound like an oxymoron.

I've had people read my work before, and while they had constructive criticism, most people really liked it. I've never had anyone tell me that my writing sucked except one guy who was really upset with me, because he thought I was pretty and I thought he was annoying. So I think it's safe to say that his opinion may have been a little biased against me.

Don't be afraid to advertise some of your work.

I struggle with this big time. I'm afraid of someone stealing it or that if I hand my work out for free to the two people who want to read it that no one will actually BUY it so that I can make a living doing what I love. As I stated before, there are seven billion people on the planet. And there is no better day than today in terms of being able to distribute work to a wide audience. I started getting serious about my writing when I found fanfiction. That probably also sounds like an oxymoron. But when I discovered fanfiction, that's when I decided I wanted to write for life. I liked the creative process. I liked how stories took on a life of their own, and how readers gave feedback throughout the process.

There's also free sites like WordPress and Wattpad, where you can either sell your work or post it for free. Also, Smashwords and Amazon have made it very easy to get your work out there to make money. Some people still choose to put their work out there for free. That's a personal choice. It's not something I agree with but I respect other authors' decisions on how to sell their work. It's not my business to tell them what to do, I can only make suggestions.

So now we have the other side of the spectrum. What about the fears and anxieties about being successful?

It sounds silly. Can we say oxymoron again? How can you be fearful and anxious about being successful? We all have this underlying fear and we probably don't even realize it.

What if I'm successful?

What if I get a ton of money and I am unable to manage it? They say that lottery winners go downhill fast. They fall into bankruptcy because they don't know how to manage their money and they spend, spend, spend. What if I can't manage my money? What if I lose it all? Or better yet, what if someone tries to take it from me?

There will be unwanted attention. I don't think writers have it nearly as bad as movie stars and musical artists. Obviously. But you're still going to be in the limelight a little more and a lot of writers are introverts. They don't like a lot of attention. What if they want to stick me in front of a camera all the time?

Also, there will always be creeps. Whether you're a writer or not, there's going to be creepy people, stalkers, and harassment. We've all experienced these people at some point in our lives. It's an unfortunate part of our world that I wish didn't exist. All we can do is continue to fight it. Don't let them bring you down... Which brings us to...

There's going to be those that try and seek to bring you down. The DaVinci Code wasn't my most favorite novel, but it was a page-turner. Did you see all the crap Dan Brown went through? How he was going against the church? Kind of makes you wonder if they were hiding something... Even though he had a best-seller, there were those who sought to bring him down.

To mention JK Rowling again, there's a lot of people out there who refuse to watch Harry Potter because "it's about witchcraft and the devil" and their religion just doesn't condone it... (even though it's actually not about those things). It's about racism. It's about love being the strongest power. It's about the power of diversity and friendship. It's WWII, set in modern times, with magic.

Not every story will please every person. I'm a fan of The Hunger Games, but a lot of people don't like the series because it's dark, barbaric, and there are children killing each other. To each his own.

On another note, we live in a very PC world, and I am not the best at being a PC person. What if something I say is taken out of context and misconstrued by the media, and I sound like a horrible person? Again, I think this is more prone to happen to actors and musicians, but writers too, if they become successful.

The bottom line is—anyone who believes everything the media tells them is an idiot, and those people aren't worth your time or energy anyway. Someone who is worth your time, won't just believe things because someone else told them about it. They will want to experience it for themselves. And always remember, if you get bombarded by internet trolls over something stupid... internet trolls have nothing better to do.

What if I quit my day job and then I never leave the house? What if the money stops? My day job provides a source of ideas for characters and story lines.

What if I can't keep it up? What if I have five good years, and then all of the sudden I can't do it anymore?

These are all legit fears. Perhaps some of you can identify with them. Perhaps you can't. Regardless, I think it's imperative that we get them out in the open. Suddenly, they seem so minuscule. I hope this helps at least one person, and lets some writers know that their not alone. Even though writing is a solitary path... it's hard work, there's a lot of sacrifices to be made, but you're not alone. Happy writing.


S. Eliza Gregory

S. Eliza Gregory is a science-fiction and fantasy author. Her debut novel, In Articulo Mortis, is currently available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Google Play Books, and more.

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