How to Overcome the Fear of Writing a Book

You can be forgiven for thinking that writing a book is all about the craft: how to write compelling characters, or how to structure a mystery novel, what to leave out when writing your memoir, or how to handle backstory, or how to curate a collection of stories or poems so it hangs together well as a whole.

Of course, these are elements of writing a book. But truth be told, they are not what gets in the way of most writers.

For a lot of writers, the story of writing a book goes like this…

  • Have brilliant idea for a book.
  • Get excited about the book and start writing.
  • Write about a third or perhaps half of the book just by riding that wave of excitement.

Then...start to worry. 

  • Worry about the middle. ⁉
  • Worry about the ending. ⁉
  • Worry about the language. ⁉
  • Worry about the structure. ⁉
  • Worry about how to make the book GREAT. ⁉
  • Worry about finding an agent.  [Note: book still not yet finished!] ⁉
  • Worry about finding a publisher. ⁉
  • Worry about people reading it. ⁉
  • ...
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Facing Failure: 3 Different Ways Writers Fail

fear of failure Sep 18, 2023

Fear of failure personified: your very own sad Frankenstein. (Photo by Ashkan Forouza)

Because facing failure is such an important issue for writers, I wanted to share some thoughts on the topic here on the blog for you.

Take a deep breath...and let’s dive in!

Facing Failure: Some Ways Writers Fail

  • They fail to get stories or poems published.
  • Then the writer has some stories or poems published, but their book is rejected.
  • Then the book is published, but the critics hate it.
  • The critics hate it, but readers love it.
  • Most readers love it, but a few really hate it.
  • The book is nominated for an award, but doesn’t win.
  • The book is nominated for multiple awards, but still doesn’t win.
  • The book wins, but some people still hate it and most people don’t read it.
  • The book wins, but the author still knows all the ways it has failed.
  • The book ends up in the “Sale” bin and then returned to the publisher.
  • Then the author writes the next book, which is always...
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