Common Writer Fears (A.K.A.,You’re Not Crazy)

by Ruthanne Reid | 75 comments

Writing is a tricky business. We throw ourselves into it, gripped by passionate ideas and the need to speak them. We persevere when haters tell us to stop, push through when our own limitations creep up like fences to be hurdled, and devour articles offering tips on how to write better, faster, and smarter.

Common Writing Fears (You're Not Crazy)

In the middle of all that, is it any wonder that sometimes we feel like we're crazy?

Writing Fears Are Normal

Today, we're not going to work on the fiction side of writing. Today, we're going to work on ourselves. Think of this as a writer's personal-training workout.

At some point, you've probably felt a lot of fear about being a writer, or wondered whether you're crazy for trying to write. Maybe you stuff that fear away each morning and crank out a few thousand words. Or maybe you haven't been able to sit down at your keyboard for weeks because a litany of fearful thoughts swirls through your head every time you consider writing.

There's a whole host of writing fears plaguing just about every writer.

In my experience, fears lose a lot of power when dragged into broad daylight. This is partly because it's easier to see them for the poisonous lies they are. That terrifying mouthful of teeth turns out to be magic-marker scribbling on cardboard. Those accusing eyes, so full of the claim you're fooling yourself, are suddenly revealed to be glued-on googlies.

googly-eyed squashes

When you drag your writing fears into the light, something wild happens: other writers recognize them, too—which helps your equilibrium. There's nothing quite like realizing you're not alone to prove you're on the right path.

You ARE On the Right Path

To put it another way, if you're on the wrong path, you'll feel nothing but confidence, never have any doubts that you'll be a billion-dollar author, and feel quite certain that no one writes as well as you do.

So if you're a sane writer, you will doubt yourself.

If you're a sane writer, you will have days where you're irrationally jealous of folks who write better, or had better chances, or are just further along the path than you.

If you're a sane writer, you will have days where you're sure everything you write is drivel, and that you've just been fooling yourself all along.

How do I know this? Because all sane writers have those days.

You're Not Alone

All writers feel crazy. All writers feel like frauds. You're not alone.

Don't believe me? Here's what other writers have to say about their craft:

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.
—E.L. Doctorow

I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don't know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn't consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read.
—Neil Gaiman

Writing is the hardest work in the world. I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you—as if you haven't been told a million times already—that writing is harder. Lonelier. And nobler and more enriching.
—Harlan Ellison

Writing is not a genteel profession. It's quite nasty and tough and kind of dirty.
—Rosemary Mahoney

Common Writer Fears

Common writing fears usually fall into a few simple categories: the fear of failure, of shame, and of self-delusion. Let's take a moment to look at each one.

Fear of Failure

The fear of failure has to do with specific standards and goals you've set for yourself. This can be fear you won't finish your book; fear you'll never see your book on shelves in your favorite bookstore; fear you won't even be published; fear critics and readers alike will hate you; fear you won't make enough money to live on your writing; fear you'll never win awards or prestige; fear you'll never be as good as you want to be.

Fear of Shame

The fear of shame has to with standards and goals set by other people for you. Shame comes from comparison of one's self with an “ideal” social standard; in other words, when you write, the people around you might discover you're not one of them, after all. Fear of shame means you really fear being ostracized because of what you have to say.

Fear of Self-Delusion

The fear of self-delusion is one that nags at me in particular. It's bizarre to feel like you've been lying to yourself all along, or that you never had the skills to write to begin with. Sometimes called “impostor syndrome,” this fear is so bizarre because it has absolutely no bearing on real life or logic.

You can be the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize and still feel like you're not a “real” journalist. You can win the Hugo award and the very next week be sure you're a fraud. The fear of self-delusion (e.g., you've been fooling yourself all along) is deadly because it can stop you from trying, dead in your tracks.

Drag That Sucker Into the Light

Almost all your fears will fall into one or more of these categories. Today, it's time to drag them into the light. It's time to expose those nasty little beasts for what they are—and the best way to do that is with others who are going through the same thing.

Drag your writing fears into the light. Share yours. I'll share mine. Let's tackle these monsters together.

What writing fears do you struggle with? Let me know in the comments.

PRACTICE

Take fifteen minutes and give voice to the fears that hound you as a writer. You may be surprised how many you share with others; I know I was the first time I did this!

When you're done, share your practice in the comments and leave encouragement for your fellow writers.

Best-Selling author Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and was keynote speaker for The Write Practice 2021 Spring Retreat.

Author of two series with five books and fifty short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom, using up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon.

When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away.

P.S. Red is still her favorite color.

75 Comments

  1. Karen Watkins

    I love all the posts you write, but this one really sticks as I feel it will for many. I don’t really think about getting rich or my book on the shelf. My constant nag is ‘who cares” fear. My drive is to tell my story because it is bizarre and yet like others. I can’t seem to get into the fiction mode and always revert back to something, someone, somewhere in my story of my life. I know it has value but doubt that value transcends beyond me. I fear that not writing in fiction diminishes my ability as a writer. After all, if i can write why can’t i write fiction. That self-imposed limitation is stifling at times and makes me throw in the towel. Then I tell myself, an artist paints with color to create a canvas of some story. I am a painter of words who wants to create a canvas of my story. I know there will be different interpretations of my painting, but my fear is if it will touch anyone in a profound way. Books I have read have changed my life – most recently Wild by Cheryl Strayed. What a story. My inner critic is overwhelming at times; others i master it. I love Gaiman’s quote. Thank you for being real and transparent with all of us.

    Reply
    • Stella

      I read Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild’ too. Couldn’t put it down. I felt physically transported to the trail there with her. It was an incredible experience.

  2. Alyssa Elwood

    I fear my dream to be a writer. I have feared all my dreams. Each and every one. I am unhappy in my current job. I went to school for so many reasons. I wanted a career I enjoyed. I wanted to make money. I had no idea what path to chose.

    There were too many options. I went in to school thinking about going with Science. Based on my one Biology class that I took in high school. I liked it. It was self-taught, self-paced. I did the work and passed the tests. I was assured that I could change my major by my advisor. I tentatively chose Science.

    In my second semester I took a creative writing class. The professor loved teaching, and it showed. I enjoyed the class so much that I announced my major as English half-way through the semester.

    The next semester was hard for a lot of reasons. I didn’t get to take a writing class. I didn’t feel the same way about my major. I thought back to how I felt about that one high school science class. I switched my major back to Biological sciences, and I stuck with it until the end.

    Now, on the other side of graduating, I wonder if that was the biggest mistake of my college career. I have a job in the science field. Most days I hate it. It’s not me. Now, when I think of my dream job it involves reading and writing. My dream career involves not punching a clock 9-5, doing soul-sucking work.

    I have slowly come to the realization that I chose wrong in college. I spent so much time working towards the wrong goals. Now, my fear is that I am too old to change. I missed all the best years for training myself to be a writer. My brain feels too old. In addition, all the money I have to pay back. I am already so far in debt for my degree. Going back seems like a big mistake. Can I do it without going back to school? Even if I could, would I be able to make a living with that choice? Do I have to acquiesce that I made the wrong choice and pay for it?

    I feel the answer to those questions is “no.” But, I am so miserable, could I just try? Would I be happier trying and failing, than not trying at all?

    So many fears. I think I can face them. I think it will take baby steps.

    Reply
    • E.J. Godwin

      A woman in my writer’s group started writing at age 60. She’s won awards in her home state of Colorado. Now she’s tackling fiction — at the ripe young age of 102. She half-blind, half-deaf, and doesn’t have an MFA. But her writing leaves me in awe.

      Don’t view failure as the end game, no matter what your age or circumstances. See it as an opportunity to learn. Failure is a necessary ingredient of success.

    • Alyssa Elwood

      102! That is amazing! I know I am not too old. But it is the easiest to blame for why I can’t start or shouldn’t start.

      Thank you for your comment.

    • Laura W.

      What’s her name? I’d love to read some of her published stuff.

    • E.J. Godwin

      Her name is Lois Hayna. Here’s an article written before she moved to my home state from Colorado:
      http://www.denverpost.com/2014/04/29/lois-hayna-at-101-colorado-springs-poet-still-produces-vivid-verse/

      Looks like I was partially wrong about her taking classes, as the article states that she took as many creative writing classes as she could at the University of Wisconsin. But she had to make a practical choice during the depression and took a different major. You should hear her talk about the many experiences she’s had in real life, including living in the south during the Jim Crow days. Real eye-opening stuff.

    • Laura W.

      Thanks!

  3. ANNIE EVE

    When I was a child, I was robbed of my fantasia, of my dreams and when I get 50 and started to be healed, I realized that my imagination was unproductive, that my dreams were possible and so I am… a writer. Writing in my beautiful french, my natal language, Writing about passion, romance, faith and obscurity, temptation and triumph and in the midst of this insane necessity to live my life, I feel that my fear is my best alliée, Because nothing can’t be done without fear. Life is scary and beautiful and fear is just part of it. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Deb Palmer

    Ruthanne
    I could cut and paste the fears you listed. It’s sad and a comfort, others share the same tortures. Thanks for a great post.

    Biggest writer fears:

    That the voices in my head whispering “you suck,” are not imaginary.

    That the people supporting my writing only do so because
    they pity me.

    That my rejected works are collected by publishers and later
    shared as a joke at Christmas parties.

    That my words serve no more purpose than a dog barking.

    That writing is a time suck and I should have spent time
    helping old ladies cross the street instead.

    That the entire world feels sorry for me because I work hard
    to be a writer.

    That I should have listened to the multitudes, telling me I
    am foolish to try.

    That no one wants to hear what I have to say.

    Reply
    • Reagan Colbert

      There’s always somebody. I know, I have fought these, especially the last one (though I never considered the Christmas party possibility). But there is someone, and what motivates me to write is the assurance that there is one person, somewhere, who will be touched by my words. There’s one for you, too. Keep writing 🙂

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Absolutely. If nothing else, taking the time to stop and think about a topic/experience/dream and then weave together sentences from the raw ideas that you capture will resonate with someone who will become quite special to you – a critic or fan.

    • Stella

      Yes. I feel these too. That I suck and the people who tell me otherwise do so because they’re my friends, that no one wants to hear what I have to say, that no matter how hard I try my words on paper will never be as good as the ideas in my head.

    • Michelle Sevigny

      “That my words serve no more purpose than a dog barking.”

      That line took me to my knees. Yes. I absolutely resonated with that. Keep writing, okay? Your words have already made an impact.

    • Deb Palmer

      Thank you!

  5. Sefton

    I know my biggest fear is that I can’t make my writing match up to my ideas. That I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. But then, I guess, chew harder.

    Reply
    • Melody Veen

      I get that all the time, along with the fear that it won’t be as good when I write something down that’s in my head. And that fear of losing something I feel is a great idea often stops me from starting.

    • Sefton

      Never be afraid to start. You might not finish but you’ll still be one step ahead of all the people who only say they are writers. And once you’ve started, it’s easier to finish than if you haven’t. -Sef

    • E.J. Godwin

      The first time I write, it often isn’t that great. I’ve fallen victim too many times to the self-defeating illusion that if I were truly talented, then the first words I put down would be amazing. Trust the process. It’s in the editing and revising that the true emotional impact of the story and characters reach their full potential.

      Just make sure your character backgrounds and personalities are fleshed out beforehand. It’s easy to misinterpret the “butt in chair” edict and begin drafting our stories too early out of guilt or impatience.

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Can you help me understand what you mean by your writing not matching up with your ideas? I struggle with this too. My struggle is from lack of patience as my thoughts outpace my typing.

    • Sefton

      I can type pretty fast! It’s more that I picture the movie of my book, sweeping scenery, action packed battle, intense romance, and it’s my task to get all that down on the page. Can I make it as immediate and thrilling for the reader as it is for me?

      Have you tried dictating your novel? Or using speech to text on your phone? It’s pretty good.

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Great suggestion. Thanks very much. I used to use speech to text software for my thesis, etc. I just never considered it for creative writing. How’s that for a closed mind? Thanks again

    • E.J. Godwin

      Speech-to-text is great for editing, too. You wouldn’t believe the errors your ears hear that your eyes never see no matter how many times you read them.

    • Chandra Marski

      Yes! I can see an epic saga in my head. It’s colorful and heavy with emotion and story. What I write seems flat comparatively.

  6. E.J. Godwin

    My fears are plenty, but this one terrifies me: the sound of silence. To bleed at the keyboard for years and not even make a ripple in the literary ocean. In today’s over-saturated marketplace, that’s a real possibility.

    Whether its money, or a rave review on Kirkus, or the simple shared joy of a reader who “gets” our story, we all seek validation of what is intrinsically an intensely personal experience. What I have to realize that it doesn’t automatically mean that I’m selfish. My work has value, if only for the fact that I put my heart and soul into it, and experienced the joy of creation.

    Reply
    • Carol Thomas Carlton

      I haven’t taken my 15 minutes to share my writing fears yet, I did skim the comments and saw yours. Your words drew me in, held my attention and left me identifying completely while shaking my head in agreement. Your reference to the fear of being selfish, is what has stopped me – dead in my tracks – each time I begin to make progress. Thanks for giving voice to my silent whispers… That must mean you’re good Mr. E.J. Godwin. I hope you pursue this shared vision. And even if a ripple in the literary ocean doesn’t grace the surface of its waters, to quote a wise thinker, “my work has value.” Yes, yes, indeed. It had great value for me today. Thanks.

    • E.J. Godwin

      Perhaps that’s the secret of great writing — instead of avoiding our fears, we should channel them into our writing. To go where we don’t want to go through our characters.

      For example, living a life that makes no difference is something that terrifies all of us, and has been a powerful theme for many stories. Bilbo Baggins would rather live a life of quiet solitude, but the “Tookish” side of him fears that life. That same fear is part of why we keep writing, yet it’s also at the other end: our fear of trying and failing. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. All these wonderfully candid comments have proven that to me.

      Looks like Ms. Reid is right: our fears are a sign we’re on the right path. Keep following that old wizard out the door! 🙂

    • Carol Thomas Carlton

      Thanks! Great insight — don’t let my fears stop me, take them on the journey out the door! Brilliance!

    • Stella

      Agree with Carol Thomas Carlton. Your comment caught my eye. It’s terrifying, the thought of pouring your life into a story only to have it disappear soundlessly beneath the waters, nary a ripple to be seen. Thank you for giving voice to this fear.

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      And if one reader connects with you, the task doesn’t ever seem as scary again.

    • Sandra D

      yes that is a great fear you mentioned.

  7. Steve K

    How about the fear of exposing yourself? Or of making yourself vulnerable to pious judgment and ridicule? I have been homeless and am attempting to write about the realities of being homeless and what it’s truly like from our perspective. However, the realities of homelessness can be very shocking and revolting to ‘normal’ folks. It’s a process I find rewarding, but there is the ever present question of ‘how far should I go?’. It causes many sub-conscious delays in my writing. FEAR.

    Reply
    • May Rose

      I used to be afraid of this as well; not writing something because of who may see it, what those around me might say if they ever read it, etc. Not that my situation is similar, but the concern definitely is. But I find limiting my writing cuts away from the valuable content. As both a writer and a reader, I think being completely honest- no matter how brutal, dark, shocking, revolting, etc., it gets- is what makes writing “eye-opening”, “touching,” and even “beautiful.” Personally I would love to read your work if you ever decide to share it. We need more enlightening pieces from brave authors, because if people are left ignorant, how is that ever going to lead to a change in anything? My advice to myself and whoever this relates to is that if you’re afraid to write something, you probably should. If life/people wants us to write about only the positive or at least water down the negative, they should’ve treated us that way. Alright, end of rant.
      Best of luck to you 🙂

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Thanks May Rose for this bit of encouragement and affirmation to Steve. The world needs folks who struggle past their fears. There we may find release

    • Steve K

      Thank you May for your words of encouragement and truth. You have helped renew and strengthen my resolve. It will be a long and probably painful process, but through your insight you have identified some of my very personal reasons for doing it in the first place. I very much enjoyed your ‘rant’. Be well.

  8. Crystalyn

    My fear is that I will never be able to write the world as clearly as I see it in my head. I also worry about judgement and that I may never be as good as I want to be or even be able to progress in my work. Which I know is absolutely stupid, but it’s almost enough to stop me.

    Reply
  9. Sarah Bourgeois

    For me, writing has always been a way to escape from reality. When everything else goes wrong in my life, i know that my pen and journal will always be there to keep me from going insane. I know that we can’t all be truly great and I don’t ask for that. All I want is to please God and write from the heart. So what scares me? Basically, the fear of not being able to say what I need to say. I sufer from ADHD and mild dyslexia. Both hinder my writing in some form or fashion. I can overcome these obstacles and learn to cope. I just don’t want to get caught up in the words and lose the message I wanted to convey.

    Reply
  10. Jade K

    My fear is I’m too young to write the same way those who are older than me do. I’m scared to share what I have because I feel my vocabulary will make me look ignorant and uneducated in the ways of the world.

    My fear is that I will be one of those authors who’s stories seem repetitive and unoriginal.

    Reply
    • Sarah Bourgeois

      Rest assured. I started writing when I was in middle school. It wasn’t that great at first but then it got better. Your vocabulary will grow with you. But it isn’t what makes you a great writer. Your voice and style of writing separate you from the rest and you are able to do that no matter your age.

    • E.J. Godwin

      This is SO important! It’s all too easy to get so caught up in obeying the “rules of fiction” that we only end up turning every flavor to vanilla and silencing our unique voice. Learning the skills of writing should always be approached with the goal of using the right tools — not rules — to strengthen that voice. Use the best hammer you can find, but build no one’s house but your own.

    • Sefton

      Please just write anyway. If you are a young writer your voice might sound different from older ones… But that’s ok. You could tell that the writer of Eragon was young but he was still a compelling writer.

      Also age does not mean wisdom. A young writer who’s been writing for three years has more experince writing than a seventy year old who’s just started.

      Just start! I wrote my first, (unpublished,) book at thirteen. And I’ve never stopped since.

      -Sef

    • Stella

      I fear that too. What if you pour out your heart and soul and the reader just goes ‘meh, another one of THOSE books?’

  11. Carol Thomas Carlton

    Hounding fears… even the description is something I want to run from. Yes, I’m hounded by fears. Fears like, I think too much of myself to believe I can say something that might benefit anyone. I believe that’s call “being pretentious.” I’m hounded by foolish fears… my vocabulary is lacking — how can I describe emotions, events, passages in a way that will grab and hold a reader? Guess I should have read the dictionary… Where’s the value in removing myself from those I love, from those who count on me, from those pursuits that have an immediate benefit to my community to simply sit alone in my room and put words on paper? Yes, where is the value in that?

    Hounding fears indeed… hounding me as a starving hound dog pursues its next meal. And then there are moments when I want to throw caution to the wind and reach out to that dog to see if maybe I’m not his victim, but his master. I’ve always loved hound dogs.

    Reply
  12. Jason Bougger

    Great article! Everybody has some kind of emotion (or fear) that can get in the way of their writing if they’re not careful. Mine is that I’m not doing enough, fast enough, to reach the long-term goals I have set for myself. The only thing to do is keep working and keep trying.

    Reply
    • Reagan Colbert

      That’s the cursed perfectionism that is built into every writer. It can be our downfall, but then, it could also be what motivates us to keep trying, keep getting better. I’ve had this one a lot, so I understand! Keep writing!

  13. Valerie J Runyan

    I feared not being published until I started hearing and reading all over the place how we as writer have so many option for that so its not really a fear anymore, honestly I think the best way to dispel any fear is with knowledge! Legitimately you can only fear what you don’t know but if you know something what is there to fear? Nothing!

    Reply
  14. Jonathan Hutchison

    Fear in Writing

    This is in response to this week’s article, Common Writer Fears. As a newer member who is in the process of switching writing activity from producing weekly sermons and Bible Studies to writing a bit of what I have picked up in life, I am terrified. I am afraid that after 68 years I actually don’t have anything to write that is worthy of your time. After some of the feedback I received working on revisions to my submission for the current writing contest, I am certain I don’t have anything to write that folks might enjoy reading.
    So fear of failure, shame and self-delusion are firing on all cylinders and the engine of craziness is taking me for my first long ride. What I have experienced in the past month is that I am only going to survive if I spend my time writing what I know and what stirs emotion in me. Instead of writing for an audience I will never see or meet, I will attempt to craft stories that resonate with what I am encountering or have encountered in life. I want to describe people that have altered my life and places that linger in my memory or is that the other way around?
    And fear or doubt, as Thomas Carlisle wrote, “is ended in action alone.”
    Have a good week.
    Jon

    Reply
  15. Jason

    Great, i feel that i am not alone. Everyone is facing the same block as I am. I guess I greatest fear is creating a perfect book. (Wait, who talks like that. There is nothing such as a perfect book!) I need to work on that!

    Reply
  16. Chandra Marski

    My fears, beside the ones previously mentioned, are, one, that my very inner being will lay exposed for all who read my book to see, and, two, that people will be upset with me for the things my characters say and do.

    Reply
    • Stella

      I feel this too. We’re so used to going through daily life putting on masks so no one can see who we really are. But when writing we’ve got to rip those masks off, touch the nerves that we’d rather leave alone. It’s terrifying to let readers see who you really are.

    • Chandra Marski

      They say a book says more about the writer than the characters.

  17. Reagan Colbert

    I’ve never really sat back and pondered the fears before. I have had them all along, yes. I realize that, but as with all my fears, I bury them, suppress them, and work my hardest to prove them wrong.
    I’d like to think that, after almost five years, I have.
    To think it over clearly, I’ll go back and do it chronologically. When I started, my fear was not so much a ‘fear’, but an acceptance. I would never finish a book.
    I haven’t finished that one, but I finished two others, proving that one wrong.
    For years I then fought the fear of showing my writing to anyone else. So I buried that one, and worked until I thought it was halfway decent, Then, sweating with my finger above the key, I actually did.
    I don’t remember that moment, but I’m pretty sure the first time I ever shared anything was on here, The Write Practice.
    So you helped me conquer that one 🙂
    And then there was the fear, the one I still have, still suppress, still try to prove wrong every day.
    The fear that the well will dry up.
    When I finally did muster the courage, I was told something that both thrilled and terrified me.

    I was good.
    I could write.

    Now, I show my writing on a regular basis, with a blog, two books, and various other writings. Now my fear is that I will send or publish something that does not meet up to the standards that have been set by my previous works. That book three won’t be as good as book two. That next week’s article won’t be as good as last week’s. That I’ll someday be finished, and viewed as a has-been who was faking it.
    But then, I know the answer to that, and I am reminded every time I hit publish. That these words, these keystrokes, these ideas, aren’t mine. I’m not the one behind it, so I don’t really need to be afraid of it being good enough. Earlier this year I dedicated every word I’ve ever written, and every word I will ever write, to God. He writes it through me, and when I am afraid that I’ll fail Him, He’s always there to remind me.

    And squash those fears right where they stand.

    Reply
    • Stella

      Hi Reagan. I’m Christian too and that’s a fantastic reminder you have there. That the words and ideas we have aren’t ours, they’re God’s. Success or failure, rave reviews or silence, are all in his hands. Thank you for reminding me.

  18. Gert van den Berg

    I have several fears that constantly gnaws at my will to write. I had realized a long time ago that I want to be like the many writers that I looked up to over the years. I wanted to be to others what my favorite authors were to me. I never wanted to be as great as them, I merely wanted to give to others what those authors gave to me. But I have this constant fear that I won’t only disappoint myself in this aspect but also those who read my work.

    I fear that my work will be rejected, that it will never make it further than my computer screen. I fear judgement, not from the reading community or the critics, but from those closest to me. I fear that the images and ideas in my head will never clearly be stated or beautifully written on paper. I fear that I won’t capture my own voice, that will work will sound like a copied and pasted school report. I fear that should I ever get published that I would be a one-hit-wonder and fade away and be forgotten in the dusty backroom of the library. I fear that I will never be good enough to succeed in my dream of becoming a novelist, that I will forever be destined to sit behind a desk, suit and tie, only typing business reports and emails.

    Reply
  19. Stella

    I have impostor syndrome, big time. Not just in writing but in my major, law, as well. I graduated from law school with a good class of honours but am terrified of people discovering that I actually suck. So much so that I’ve been actively avoiding jobs which call for higher academic credentials in case they take me and then find that I’m not really as good as they think. I feel this way because most of my grades in law school came from non-law subjects. Even for law subjects, I did better on ‘soft skills’ components of grading, like class participation and presentations, than ‘hard skills’ components like research papers and finals. I feel like a fake.

    And writing…I’m terrified that I suck. I’m afraid I’ll never be good enough. I’m afraid I’ll have to be a lawyer. I’m afraid that people give me good feedback because they’re my friends, or because they don’t know much about what makes good writing, or because of simple confirmation bias. Like when you fill in a feedback form and have to give a rating out of 5 stars, most people would give three to five stars because we’re just biased towards being ‘nice’.

    I look at what I write and it’s never as good as what I imagined in my head. Why did I even start? Why do I bother? It’s just not good enough, it’ll never be good enough.

    Who’s going to read what I write? What if nobody cares but me?

    Reply
  20. Bruce Carroll

    Fear? I fear nothing! I know my story is awesome, or at least worth telling. Even though I may struggle with the middle from time to time (okay, most of the time), I will persevere and my story will be told in the end!

    Except that’s not exactly true.

    Of course I fear that I am over-confident. After all, I like a lot of things most of my friends and acquaintances don’t. And many of the things they think are very compelling I find lackluster. It seems my tastes, whether in music, movies, books, authors, games, or whatever, are discriminating.

    But that fear is (relatively) easily overcome. I write what I write. Those who appreciate it will. Those who don’t will move on and find something else to read. And if I am the only one who appreciates my work, I will not have failed. At least I’ll have a good story to go back and re-read.

    No, what I most fear is wasting time. Sometimes while reading how to write, I feel my time would be better spent writing. (Yes, even reading The Write Practice I sometimes feel this way.) Planning a story and research both take time, and I sometimes wonder if it would be better spent somewhere else. My writing practice can seem like a waste of time. Even writing my WIP can seem like a waste of time; so much goes unused. Of course I file it, but would I have been a “better” writer if I hadn’t wasted that time in the first place?

    There is a strange disconnect here: I know (intellectually) that these things are important, but I often FEEL they are a waste.

    Anyway, that’s fifteen minutes (more or less, including revisions on the fly. Don’t judge me.). Which reminds me of another fear: what if I don’t have anything to say? What if instead of a compelling resolution to a particular piece, it simply…

    …ends?

    Reply
  21. Jon

    My biggest fear is that I’m not good enough to be a writer. That I won’t be able to finish because of my writing skill.

    Reply
  22. Gabrielle Paige

    My biggest fear Is that I am not good enough, that every time someone says they like my story they only say it to save my feelings. Sometimes this fear overcomes me, and I sit starring at a blank screen for hours trying to find the perfect thing to put on the page. It terrifies me that people will have opinions about my stories that I don’t know about. Every time I sit down to write I feel like I have to say something perfect, that anything less will make the whole thing crap.

    Reply
  23. Zerelda

    I’m not afraid anymore.

    Reply
  24. MianneChan

    I don’t know if it can be considered as a fear but I really find it hard to continue writing because I got lost when I do characterization and I don’t know how to incorporate the proper conflict that the story needs. When an idea stuck me, I get ecstatic that I start to write some scenes that I have thought of but when I try to characterize, to know my characters, I get lost in it. I just don’t know the character anymore. It seems very different from my first impression. It is very frustrating that I always end up giving up. I just don’t know what to do with it anymore. About adding conflict, I am also lost in it. I end up visualizing the lovely scenes but when it comes to the conflict, everything can’t seem to make sense of meaning. It may be a fear, that I fear getting lost in the middle of writing that I can’t even start anything. It’s very frustrating. I fear that I will not be able to give the right scenes and buildup and everything that my story requires that I end up giving up. I’m such a coward.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      MianneChan, you took the words right out of my mouth. This is my exact fear when I write. I wish I could give you some sort of encouragement, but that would be hypocritical of me, because I always give up as well. I just hope that we can both soon find our voices and write whatever we desire however we wish to. Just remember: Don’t be afraid to write crap, because crap makes the best fertilizer.
      Good luck!!

    • Alexis

      For me characterization is the easiest, but working out the minute details of the plot is tricky. Have you heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test? It is exceptionally accurate profiling. If you know your characters well enough to take the test as them and see what type you get, you can reference the profile when needed. Even if you can’t get the right profile for your character that you had in mind at the time, you can always browse around at the different types and see what jumps out at you.

  25. Nahnah Najeeb

    My biggest fear is that I’m too young to write! I’m just 13 and I’ve been carrying the load of dreams I see everyday and at last someone told me dreaming is not doing. So I started it, but I couldn’t… I feel like I’m not a writer! I’m not the one who can do it.. I’m not enough for it! My fears are the negative vibes in me..! Could anyone relate to it?

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      I feel the same way Nahnah Najeeb. I’m only 15, and I write down all of my dreams and thoughts, but I’m never sure if they’re good enough. Then I realized that it doesn’t matter if I’m considered a writer or not. The only thing that matters is that you write what you truthfully feel, and you love what you write. Don’t think about whether others would enjoy reading your writing, just think about whether YOU enjoy reading your writing. Your mind is the only one that matters right now. Also remember: Don’t be afraid to write crap, because crap makes the best fertilizer.

  26. George McNeese

    I struggle with the fear of perfectionism. I feel like that whatever I write has to be perfect; anything less than that is not worth writing. And then there’s the fear of not having any good ideas. I’ve said to people that I am going to write a novel, but I haven’t started. I fear I don’t have an idea worthy enough for novel material. Or even novella or novelette. And, of course, there is the fear of failure; that I’m not good enough to have anything published.

    I struggle with these daily. It’s hard for me to overcome them. I know I have to say to myself to take it one day at a time. It’s hard, though. Especially when you want to do something that’s more than a hobby. Doing something worthwhile usually comes with its own set of fears.

    Reply
  27. Elizabeth

    My biggest fear is that I’ll never accomplish anything with my writing. The stories that I jot down now seem useless in comparison to so many others’ works. Whenever I begin writing a scene, I try to imagine how I could fit this scene into a larger story, and I freeze up. This is when the fear of failure comes in. I cannot imagine myself writing something with a beginning and an end that is worth reading, and that interrupts my writing process and ruins the words on the page. Someone please tell me I am not alone in this.

    Reply
  28. Lana Demler

    My Greatest fear is that I’m kidding myself. I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m a high school drop out, and I have no idea what I’m doing. I am too stupid to be a writer.

    Reply
  29. Mundellah

    This is the first time I read about writers, as a writer for some strange reason I never looked for other writers nore info. I been writing since I have knowledge of and started poems around the age of 12 converting many in song or just composing them from scratch… Ive always had so many fears thru out the years that dont go away and it seems like I can read faster inside my head more then just saying it live… “it has happened but I dont know how that confidence was built when it does” It takes so much time for me to have the confidence to open up to people that is crazy cause when I do I guess sometimes I open up to the wrong ones looking at me like im crazy but gets it in the long run or just anyone who I tell the same thought will understand and extend my idea. I have such a hard time expressing what I really want to say and at the of 34 with hundreds written still not out there im finaly straving to share. …I think straving is said correctly lol… hope someone understands me what it is to struggle to explain and share information… those out of breath moment with the urge to write… good day all

    Reply
  30. Kathy Waller

    I don’t feel as much of a fraud as I used to. But I fear self-delusion: I say I’m a writer, but I’m not sure I am, and I’m afraid everyone else knows I’m just pretending, or worse, fooling myself, and they’re laughing and whispering behind my back, shaking their heads indulgently, saying, I’m “conceited,” “putting on airs,” “getting above” myself. “If she could just see herself as others see her.” “Claiming to be a writer–bless her heart.” I’m the emperor who has no clothes: I believe I’m dressed but have my doubts, and people are watching me, and I’ll bet I’m not dressed and they all know it, and they’re waiting for me to pass by so they can make fun of me. And that’s what I deserve because I’m too dumb to know I have no clothes. ~ And all the time I DO have clothes, and people admire me, they aren’t even thinking about laughing. ~ But maybe I don’t have clothes… A fraud at least has everyone fooled for the present. And he’s not pathetic. No “bless his heart.” ~ They think I’m pathetic, so I’m pathetic, and I’m ashamed–rather, I’m a shame–so I’ll stop being a writer, no, I’ll stop pretending to be one. I’m published, but just pretending. ~ If all that makes sense. ~ Well, no, it’s not that bad. That’s mostly in the past. But periodically the thought/emotion surfaces and once again I’m–let’s face it–an (aged) insecure adolescent, caring too much what people think of me. When most people aren’t thinking about me at all. ~ And after writing all this, I’m thinking it’s silly, just too much, how did that emperor get in there, these people will know I don’t belong, they’ll say, “Bless her hearrrrt.” I’ll delete it. I won’t give them a chance to make fun of me. I’ll go home and crawl under the porch. ~ Or maybe I’ll just get over it.

    Reply
  31. Beth

    I suffer from overconfidence. I have always tried to be confident in my works, and now I know that I am too confident. I am only a kid, but the emotional side of me is thinking that I can’t lose. I think that I’m am an amazing writer, the best in the world! And then the rational side of me is thinking that, actually no. I am nowhere near the best, and I have a lot of work set out for myself. And I know that my writing needs improvement, and a lot of it. But I feel like my overconfidence is sort of drowning my future. I need someone experienced to look at my works, judge them, tell me they’re horrible, just so I can stop being a foolish child and actually edit and try to improve! I know I can just come back from criticisms and be perfecting fine mentally, but I do need someone to actually tell me that I need to improve. Everyone I know is always complimenting me, telling me how great I am and how proud of me they, and that just really ruining me. No one is telling me how to improve. It was awesome the first times, but now it’s just tiring and embarrassing. I need criticism. And I don’t really care if I become a famous author and change the world or not, I have no good moral for my stories anyway. I just want to publish, have people enjoy my books, and get over myself.

    Reply
    • Jonathan Hutchison

      With honesty and self-awareness like that in your submission, you are ahead of the game. Keep asking for feedback and eventually you will find a person or persons whose opinions you will come to trust. We all need confidence, humility and the willingness to search for a teacher(s)
      Jon

  32. kimberly carlisle

    My biggest fear every time i sit down to begin writing is that as soon as i put pen to paper i cannot hide any longer. Everything inside of me is so very personal that as long as it stays in my head i can pretend it didn’t happen. But saying it out loud makes it real.

    Reply
  33. Charlotte

    My fear, what will keep me away from writing for months, is that no one will care. Because at the end of the day, I write to know I’m not alone. And the only reason I keep writing is so that someday, someone, will also know they are not alone. I don’t need to be known, I don’t need to be published. I don’t need to be a good author; I need to know that my hurting and healing, healed another. Idk, just… I can die at peace if I know that what I did changed someone for the better.

    Reply
  34. Sara W

    A huge writing fear of mine is that I’m not as good as some have told me. I’ll be publishing my first book soon, and there have been some days where I think about not publishing it at all. Sometimes it’s easier to believe the criticism, constructive or not, and forget about the compliments. I sometimes wish I could get one total stranger’s opinion of my work as a sort of outlier. I guess when it comes down to it I just need to publish it and get feedback that way so that I can improve my skills for my second book. They say that you start out writing crud and thinking it’s good. I bet you eventually write something awesome and think it’s crud! I guess I just have to tell the negative and doubtful thoughts that plague my mind to shut the heck up, and I hope others can do the same.

    Reply
  35. Amy

    i particularly suffer from the fear that people will see me for who i really am… that through my writings people will be able to see the hurt that i suffer through it. This fear is particularly there because when i’m hurting about something my best way to deal with it is to write a story. so if people read my writings they will be able to see the hurt that i suffer.

    Reply

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