IWSG - New Year, Same Old Fears

Hey, gang! Thanks for all the "feel betters". This cold-crud hasn't licked me yet. I am a little sleep deprived though--and perhaps a little medicated--so I make no guarantees that this is going to be entirely coherent. But it should be fun! :)

It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. What's up with the IWSG? In short, once a month a bunch of us post support, encouragement, or confess what's been eating at us. For more information, and to join in, click the button below. (And always present in the rolling sidebar gadget to the right.)

Before we get to that, I wanted to mention again that my Winter Thrills & Chills Tour is going strong. You can check the full list of stops HERE. (Today, I did guest posts on why I write like a reader and an author's tricks for pulling readers into the story--with an excerpt from Dragon's Game.)

There's also a fun giveaway you can enter (featuring books from several of our writing blog friends). Plus, the Moonsongs Anthology 1 (collecting the first 3 stories in the series) will be free on Amazon tomorrow and Friday (1/9 & 1/10). 

So if you haven't picked one up, or maybe haven't gotten around to books 2 or 3, you can do so on me. :)

IWSG New Year, Same Old Fears

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Confession: This started out as an "anti-resolution" post where I was going to list all of the things that could hold me back from accomplishing my writing goals this year, both real and imagined.

(FYI: That would've been a lengthy post.)

But as I was jotting things down, it occurred to me that it's the same damned list I had last year. And the year before. And probably the 5 years before that. (By my recent reckoning, I've been chasing my fiction writing tail for roughly 7 years.)

Here's the thing, I'm not even remotely in same place as a writer as I was 7 years ago. I should have new fears, new demons to scare away, and new hurdles to trip over. 

Do I? Nope. I'm the Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day of writing.

Still worried that someone I admire is going to declare me a hack and I'll have to pack it in. 

Still scared to share my writing with strangers. 

Still hate telling people outside of the Internet I'm a writer. 

Still conflicted by the balance of creativity and mass appeal you seemingly have to find to be a successful in the book business.

Still not sure I have a real place in this group. (Did I just make my own place? Is that cool?)

Still worried I'm not doing enough to reach my goals.

Still terrified I won't EVER be doing enough to reach my goals.

Still come up woefully short when I compare myself to my contemporaries. 

Still don't really know what I'm doing on social media.

Still afraid my ideas are boring, my writing unoriginal, and my characters unmoving.

On, and on, and on, and on, and on it goes...

BUT I'M TELLING YOU IT'S THE SAME. Swap the words around, adjust my perspectives a hair, toss in a pinch of refuting validation, sure. But it's still the same soupy mess I try to wade through every year.

That's why the lesson here is so important. And it's one of those Dr. Seuss, so-simple-it-blows-your-mind kinds of lessons. Ready for it? Here goes!

It doesn't matter. None of it. Not an ounce.

This stuff didn't stop me 7 years ago, nor has it stopped me any year since. Which isn't to say the fears aren't real, and that I don't have to struggle with them. It just means I can go into the scrap with a little confidence. 

It's like being the cartoon super heroes I loved to watch as a kid. I'll face stiff odds every time, but somehow, I'll come out on top. The story doesn't work any other way. No exceptions, the hero wins.

So I'd encourage you to really pause when you feel like you're facing something that's threatening to derail your writing train. Understand that many times you're going to have variations of the same obstacles for as long as you're moving forward with this gig.

You'll deal with the trouble and keep moving. After all, you've probably beat this thing before, and you'll most certainly do it again. 

~EJW~

34 comments:

  1. It might be the same fears, but I bet every year you are better equipped to handle them!

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    1. I feel like it, Alex. Most of the time! LOL

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  2. Great post! The anxieties never really go away, but the trick is not letting them hold you back.I really like your post on getting into character, too. Happy 2014!

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    1. You just can't stop long with any of them. It's cool to give yourself time to work through them, but at some point you just have to move on.

      Thanks for checking out the guest post, Em! :D

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  3. Great post. :) We are so funny ... "writers" ... why do we worry so much? Maybe it's just part of our creative nature to explore (aka worry about) every possible option and plot twist. Happy New Year!

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    1. I'd never thought about thinking about the worry as part of the job, Margo! *gulp* LOL Happy New Year to you as well!

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  4. Wonderful words of encouragement, E.J. I looked at your list and thought that so many of us face the same fears that don't seem to go anywhere for long. As you've noted and I have to agree based on my own journey, I'm not where I was ages ago. Not where I want to be either, but I'm a fighter so I keep going.

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    1. I agree, JL. I talk to so many writers and authors, and I've realized we're all battling the same things for the most part. And that perspective can give you strength when things seem hopeless. :)

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  5. So if it didn't stop you then, it ain't gonna stop you now. Yay! And onward.

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  6. I don't tell most people offline that I'm a writer; I keep all my manuscripts, cafe writing sessions, and fiction writing classes secret from them. Partly it's because for now, writing is something that I do for myself, and I feel like I'd really have to trust someone in order to share my writing with them.

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  7. E.J. this was so very good. I love the simple statement: It doesn't matter. Those three words take it all down the most basic. We write despite the fear, insecurities and petty comparisons. We write anyway.

    I have this quote on my desk: Give yourself permission to risk the unknown. Dare to not do what the world expects of you. -- William Zinsser. I double-dog dare us both to not be and write and do what the world, online or otherwise, expects of us. Thanks for reminding me I'm not alone in these feelings. Probably my favorite post of the day.

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  8. I'm with you 100%. We all have those anxieties, and none of them will make us give up writing if we've caught the passion. Hope you get over the winter crud soon.

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  9. At least you are getting on with the business of writing, and publishing. Good luck on your tour EJ.

    ......dhole

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  10. Great post, and even I can relate to it while I'm not yet published. I have the same "fear of public speaking" sort of thing going on every year in relation to my writing. At least some things change, like my goals from year to year, my priorities, etc. I definitely feel as if this is one huge learning curve I'm riding. So I'm not staying in one spot, even if I still haven't published.

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  11. EJ, I don't think any author, no matter how huge, is not a little insecure. If it were not so, why did JK Rowling try to publish a book under a pseudonym, and then got her dander up when her lawyer whispered this secret to someone and it got out? Right...
    As for me, my English teacher in high school (yeah a teacher) told me to find something else to do when I told her I wanted to be a writer. My spelling and grammar sucked. Sure, that stung. That was over 40 years ago. Did I quit? No. I don't like anyone telling me I CAN'T do something. I'll prove them wrong.
    And as far as telling people you are a writer--or even a published author--it has no affect. I get a dumb look each time, any more, where as about 15 years ago, people were simply amazed you could put thousands of words down on paper and make sense.
    Yes. Make yourself into your own Marvel Comic Hero. That would not hurt, it might even be fun. Have a great year, and hope to see you in the funny papers!

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  12. That's so, so true! The same fears crop up every year, every book, every release, but as long as we face them and keep moving, then we have something to show for our bravery. :)

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  13. I got my copy of Moonsongs Anthology 1! Now I have to add this it my list of books to read this year. :)

    You definitely have a place in this group. I think most writers share your fears. I know I do. And I'm not sure that they will ever go away, but we do learn to handle them a little better with each passing year. That's all we can do. :)

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  14. I love this. I have all these same anxieties all the time too and this helps inspire me to just keep kicking them in the butt and getting on with it.

    Glad to hear the tour is going well, good luck with the rest of it!

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  15. Mass appeal is an illusion. It's not something you can attain by trying.

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  16. After doing this gig for almost ten years, many of the fears remain the same. Some have fallen away and new ones appeared. It doesn't get any less scary. You just feel the fear and do it anyway!

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  17. Awesome post. It seems like the same cycle over and over, but you're right. Perseverance is the key. We must keep on keeping on. Have a great new year! :)

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  18. What an inspiring post! I tend to struggle with the same fears over and over, too, so it's great to be reminded that they don't have any real power over us...

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  19. Reading your post was like putting a mirror up to my own fears.

    I'll wager even those authors you admire so much have had them as well (though they obviously are not keeping their writing a secret).

    I'm am also with you on saying they don't matter because they don't. They haven't stopped you yet and are not likely to.

    Great post!
    Leanne ( http://readfaced.wordpress.com )

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  20. Excellent post, E.J.! You're 100% right--the same fears, the same hang-ups, haunt us for the entire journey. I guess in a way those fears and hang-ups are a reflection of who we are at the core (isn't a fear, especially a deep one, a chink into the armor of your soul?), and that core isn't likely to change, as unfounded as the fears might be. But there's a positive side to it. Fear is what keeps life safe. Fear is the other face of survival instinct. So fear is what makes us better. Overcoming it certainly makes us stronger, but it's deeper than that. Fear, for writers, makes us write better. Pushes us to excel, and then excel beyond that, and then beyond *that*. Never being satisfied is our cross--and our gift :)

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    1. So true, G! If there was no fear, any word would be good enough. But fear of not being understood, or not being good enough really does push you to do better each time. To go deeper, and share more. Confidence is a funny thing in that it is definitely born in failure--at least in my experience. :)

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  21. Soooooo beautiful, EJ. You always inspire me! You definitely have a way with words. And we are the lucky ones who get to be on the receiving end of your honesty. It's SUCH a process---but learning from people like you make it seem possible. Can't wait to see what this year holds for you, EJ. Good things. Good things. :)

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    1. Thank you! When you say "process", I couldn't agree more, and it reminds me of all the parallels I see between writing and cooking. For me, cooking is a process. Initially, it's about following rigid steps in a recipe and understanding what each ingredient (and amount) does to the food. Then, as you do it more, it starts to become a very personal thing. You add new things you'd enjoy, remove things you don't, and learn to make it your own. You just have to build on what you know and can do at each step I think.

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  22. Ill tell you a secret - it is pretty much the same list i have too, and I suspect that everyone has. I am finishing up a new book and going through the same "woe is me" agonies I do every time. "No one will like it. everyone will hate it. people will give me bad reviews. people will hate the end. people will say.." it goes on and on, and in the end if they do then so what? It won't kill me. Hard to remember that all the time tough, huh? LOL! Great post.

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  23. We will always have fears...the same ones or different ones. Doesn't matter. As long as we don't let them rule us, we will keep moving forward.
    Best wishes for 2014 :)

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  24. It doesn't matter. BEST. MESSAGE. EVER. Whew! We can get so wrapped up in our worries. Thanks for this post, E.J. I totally needed it.

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  25. The same fears, eh? Well, maybe it is those fears that drive you to work even harder at your writing. After all, you've accomplished much the past 7 years.

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“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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