This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.
Fear of Being Called a Fraud
As you begin sending your work out into the world and receiving complements, you may find a different fear raising its head. You may begin to believe that your achievements have been down to luck – that you don’t really deserve the positive comments coming your way.
You believe that sooner or later people are going to discover you’re not actually as good a writer as they first thought. Then they’ll realize you were a fraud all along.
This fear may show up as:
- Doubting the positive things people say about your work and magnifying the negatives comments.
- Feeling extremely nervous and uncomfortable when someone pays you a complement or invites you to participate in an activity that highlights your skills (perhaps guest posting on their blog or speaking at a local library).
- Double checking invitations and fan mail to make sure the person writing hasn’t got you confused with someone else.
It’s true that in order to hit it big in the writing industry, there is a certain element of chance involved. If you’re submitting your manuscript to publishers or agents, then acceptance may depend on the right person with the right tastes in the right mood picking up your manuscript. If you’re self-publishing, then finding readers can also come down to chance. Some books take off. Others don’t.
However, that kind of chance is linked to discoverability. Whether the right editor picks up your submission or not is largely out of your control. Whether your self-published novel takes off or not is mostly out of your hands too.
What is in your control is your writing ability. It’s true that as writers we’re always learning, but that fact shouldn’t diminish your achievements. The positive feedback and complements you received from your writing were earned while you were sitting in your chair working on your words. If you were the one putting the hours into your writing, then your work is not fraudulent.
The fear of being revealed as a fraud is common among people who do well at something – whether they’re actors, doctors, artists, teachers…you get the idea. You’re in good company, but there are things you can do to deal with this fear.
Here are some things you can try:
- Make a list of your achievements. Note down even the small things, those little steps that got you to the point you are today.
- Get your list out from time to time and add to it. Keep it handy so you can read through it when you feel this fear coming on.
- Remind yourself that no one is perfect. You don’t have to reach perfection in order to be genuine. Don’t let a little mistake ruin your appreciation for what you’ve achieved.
- Try to view yourself as others see you. Many other very talented people battle with this fear. It doesn’t diminish their achievements, so it shouldn’t diminish yours.
- Talk to a writing coach, mentor or therapist about your troubles. Their words will hold more weight and their experience will allow them put the situation into perspective for you.
While you naturally don’t want your ego to get the better of you, self-esteem is very important for healthy living. Take the time to reassure yourself that your work and achievements are genuine. You deserve to feel good about what you’ve created.
Fear of Losing Your Creative Edge
We writers are very dependent on our creative ideas. Without those ideas, we’d be lost for words.
A brilliant idea can fire our imagination and lead to prolific writing output. However, even as we ride the wave of excitement with an inspiring idea, our fear may creep in telling us we’ll never be able to keep up such a level of creative production.
Sometimes the more prolific our production of ideas, the more we fear the moment when they stop appearing. We are told the muse is fickle and may disappear on a whim.
Therefore, we may wonder how we can protect ourselves from the loss of our creative edge.
This fear may cause you to:
- Bounce from one creative project to another without knuckling down to finish anything for fear you’ll miss an idea.
- Continually look ahead in your story, wondering how you’re going to fix a creative problem several chapters in the future while stalling on your current chapter.
- Douse your creative highs with worry about where your ideas come from and how you can reproduce this success.
The solution to overcoming this fear is to:
- Understand how your creative mind works,
- Learn what you need to do in order to feed your creative process, and
- Trust that if you’ve done the first two steps then the ideas will flow as you need them.
In an upcoming chapter we will go into the creative process in more detail and show you a unique way to understand how your personal creativity works.
In the meantime, you can try some of these suggestions:
- When you next get a good idea, make a note of what could have triggered it. What had you been reading? Had you been watching something on television? Did an interesting fact stick in your mind and then germinate into this idea? Did it come from a fascinating conversation with someone, or after a visit to a new place?
- Look for patterns in your creative moments. Start learning how your mind words and what it needs to create ideas.
- Keep an Idea Book to store the ideas you’re not currently able to use. This will give you a safety net for those times when the ideas don’t seem to be flowing as freely as you would like.
- Don’t try to solve writing problems until you’re actually facing them on the page. You may know that you’ve got a plot twist looming in Chapter 7. But if you’re still writing Chapter 4, then try not to allow your mind to skip ahead. Often you will find solutions coming to you as you write. Keep moving forward and more than likely you’ll have an answer by the time you arrive at the problem.
Ideas are like gold to a writer, and you do need a steady stream of them in order to produce good work. But as you’ll see in a future chapter, the origins of your creative ideas aren’t as mysterious and unpredictable as you might think.
Add your comment below. What’s on your list of writing achievements?
My writing is my living, and I’m currently working under some tight deadlines for upcoming fiction projects, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.
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