The Rational/Irrational Fear that Comes with Being a Writer by Elle W Silver

Fear is such a constant and strong emotion that we evolved a way to deal with it or keep it as far away as possible. Yet, it remains a huge part of our lives. Each one of us experiences fear in some degree and a huge percentage of us chooses to ignore it, do nothing, go on like nothing has happened.

As a writer, I have found that my greatest fear is in sharing my work. I get an idea, plan, plot and map the characters and then sit down to write the story. When I am done, or nearly done. I begin to wonder if the world is ready for the story. What will people think? Will my agent, editor or publisher send it back, telling me they can’t sell this? Or worse, will I finally hit Publish (If I am self-published) or finally get that publishing deal (If I am going traditional) only for readers to give me 1 star reviews or no reviews at all?


The fact remains that this is a fear many authors have faced and dealt with through their careers. And while I have heard the phrase “writing for the market” thrown around quite a bit, I highly doubt that that we do it for the money.

Don’t get me wrong, being able to provide for your family through writing stories is a dream come true. But that’s not the main motivation, at least not for me. It’s about giving voice to the characters that live in my head. To anyone who isn’t a writer, that may sound a little psycho. But you all know what I am talking about.

And yet, even after they’ve left the sanctuary that is my head and are finally ready to make their mark on the world, my characters have to contend with my fear. I am afraid that they aren’t good enough, that I didn’t do a good job portraying their needs, ambitions and yes, fears.

And stories of rejection letters certainly don’t help. Although it is easier knowing that even JK Rowling once received a rejection letter that even advised her to take a creative writing course. Anyway, back to the point. This fear won’t go away so there is only one thing we can do, face it!

Critique groups like Scribophile certainly help. Being able to get feedback before you face the ultimate reader is a great way to at least mitigate the fear. But finding a way to believe in your own characters, your own story is the only way to let go of this irrational but also quite rational fear.

I don’t remember who said it, but it’s one of the best quotes in writing, “This particular story came to you for a reason. You are the only one capable of telling it the way it should be told.” So, next time you’re worried what others will think of your story, realize that out of 7 billion people, this story came to you, only you can give it voice, only you can tell it like it should be told.

Only JK Rowling would have given life to Harry Potter the way she did!

Oh! and by the way, when asked why she didn’t quit JK Rowling said, “I had nothing to lose and sometimes that makes you brave enough to try!”

So, what makes you brave enough to try? I am going to go figure out an answer right now and finally share my story.


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