Four Lists For Fear Management

spidey fear-smallerThis past week I got another email from my editor with some final edits. A knot sat in my stomach, and I couldn’t open the attachment. I chose to look at it earlier the next day. That gave me time to loosen the knot and talk myself off the ledge. This isn’t the first time I have wrestled with knots of fear and nervousness over an editor’s email. So, I’ve learned a few things to help me battle fear. I never open an attachment right away. I read the email but leave the attachment for a time when my mind is fresh and focused Because fear raises its ugly head often in a writer’s life (at least in this writer’s life), I have a few methods to deal with it. Some work others are just, well, stupid. Let me share my strategy lists with you. First, the…

Stupid list

Never work on the edits suggested. Instead, throw the manuscript in a drawer and ignore it.

Whine and complain about my inability to get it right.

Watch lots of TV and find other excuses not to work on my project.

Have an imaginary discussion/argument with my editor over the suggested changes.

Take on the mantras “I’m not worthy.” Or “I’m not good enough.” Recite them often.

Well you can imagine how much I don’t get done following this check list. An old teacher often said. “Stupid is as stupid does.” Doing stupid doesn’t advance my writing goals.

Knowing fear can bring on the “stupids,” I created a…

check list-tiny

Better list

Plan a time to rework and rewrite according to editor’s suggestion.

Watch less TV.

Talk to my hubby about my fears to help release the knot in my stomach.

Pray a lot for wisdom.

Meet deadline even if its close.

Tell myself “I can do this.”

 

This is obviously more helpful. But I feel I could do better yet. I have an ideal state of mind I hope to reach before I pass from this life to the next. Her is my…

 

Best List

Pray against my fears. Remind myself God has given me this opportunity and He will guide me.

Spend time in praise to God for all his care for me.

Rise early and get the job done. Allowing plenty of time to get it done.

Send project in before the deadline.

If there is no quiet place at home to work. (With my full house that can be a challenge.) Go to the library.

Share with my hubby how excited I am to refine this project.

Resist any and all distractions. Including my favorite TV shows.

Along with the attached reworked manuscript send a note of appreciation and thanks for all my editor does for me.

 

This list is still out of reach. My reality is a combination of all of the above because fear wrenches my resolve to follow the best list. And I am wracked with guilty if I follow the stupid list.

 

My real list

I pray both for wisdom and confidence.

I remind myself I am love by Jesus and draw strength from that.

I talk to my hubby expressing my fears while I share my strategy for completing the edits.

I complain about my shortcoming, mostly to myself and God.

I set time aside to get the project done after watching more TV then I intended. By then I’m no longer sitting on the fear ledge. My mind is fresh when I sit down to do it.

I meet my deadlines, even it is closer than I would like.

I send a thank you and word of praise to my editor along with the attached corrections.

When I’ve won the battle

After completing the project and turning it in I bask in the confidence high I get from pressing the send button. Then I take time to work on some new writerly thing while I feel empowered. Because, it won’t be long before I feel fears presents. It lurks just around the corner prepared to rope me in when my writing world gets tough again.

How do you deal with your writer’s fears? I’d love to hear your strategy.

 

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The Biggest Anchor Weighing Down A Writer’s Dreams

Today I am posting a blog I wrote as a guest blogger a few years ago over at Write It Sideways. Recent events in my writing life caused me to revisit the sentiment in the post. I know I am not alone and thought I’d share it here.

Large Anchor in front of Conderate White House in Richmond Virginia.

Large Anchor in front of Conderate White House in Richmond Virginia.

Have you ever heard a writer say “I don’t care if I ever get published.”
My answer to them (in my head anyway) would be, “You are such a liar.”
I know, because I have wanted to wash my mouth out with Whiteout fluid when I heard that very statement slip out between my lips
Writers who are serious about their craft want to be published. Writers who have a passion to share with others crave to be published. Authors don’t slave for years over their book to never have it see the light of day.
Let’s call it what it really is F-E-A-R.
We are afraid of being rejected. Who wants to spend hours working on something to get rejection letters? Be honest. How long did it take to get comfortable with any kind of criticism of our precious creation? My husband is a grammarian, and it used to aggravate me that he was so nit-picky. Really, he is a wonderful help with the editing process. But until I developed a thick-skin toward my work, he and I went head to head, point for point. Sending pages from my novel to critique services, editors and fellow writers for evaluation can be unnerving. All the red marks stung at first. Needless to say, without that editing my stuff did not get published.
Don’t Criticize my Baby
Our created masterpieces are our babies. Rejections stir our maternal instincts to protect our young. When we protect it, we suffocate the creative process and any growth our writing can have.
A line in the sand
Drawing the proverbial low expectation line in the sand—I don’t care if I get published—creates excuses for not pursuing publication. That low expectation in turn produces negativity. Mention an author you like, their opinion of them won’t be favorable. If you share a lead regarding a publisher or magazine, they have a horror story about the publication. Why? Fear encourages defending the line; out come the weapons of authoritative sneers. The line forces the fearful to take other would-be writers with them.
Fear of New Technology
Writers can be afraid of learning new things to improve their ability and expand their platform. I remember learning to use a computer. Once I mastered the word processing program, I was in heaven. No more carbon paper and retyping whole pages. As the word processing got more refined, I had to battle with the newest edition. Discovering how to use the editing application in word was freeing–although I still do print off a copy and red ink it. I find the editing program much more efficient especially when I turn it over to my husband for his comments, which can be eradicated with a simple mouse click. Obviously, I still have a few issues with his input.

Writers cling to Mantra
There’s also the declaration by some—whether I am published or not, I will keep writing. Really! Seeing your name in the byline and your article in print is such a rush that anyone who is serious about their writing will pursue publication again and again. Those who say they don’t care will quit writing. It is too discouraging to have no affirmation. I find that I have to switch from my novel to writing other things. I need that affirmation. While I wait to find a home for it and see my name on a book cover, I will write other things to keep my creative juices fueled.
Getting published is hard work
People continue to say that getting published is not their goal because it is time consuming hard work. All the research and contact making, query letters, book proposals, networking. Whew! Makes me tired just writing the words. That, too, is a fearful thing.
Publishers don’t get my unique style
I love to hear I have a unique style that traditional publishers don’t understand. My question to them (again in my head) is if traditional publishers don’t understand it, what makes you think traditional readers will? Again, I see fear as the main culprit. That uniquely gifted writer may be afraid it is too late to learn proper grammar and correct spelling. He fears if he hired an editor to do that, his voice would be lost.
Fear is the biggest anchor weighing down the awesome potential in many writers.
To lose that anchor that still tries to weigh me down, I read blogs like this. I am involved in Word Weavers, a critique group that helps me hone my craft. That group gives off an encouraging vibe that fuels me on. When I write something every day, fear can’t whisper the words that make me feel worthless. Entering contests is my way of telling fear–nothing ventured, nothing gained. I take classes and attend webinars. Attending conferences boldly slaps fear in the face. There I discover my story idea has merit and my articles have value. Most importantly, I say I am a writer. The more I say it–print it right on a business card—the more I can sense the fear diminishing and the confidence coming forth. Like you, I battle with fear; but it is getting weaker, and the desire to continue to be published is getting stronger.
What excuses have you made because you were afraid of rejection? How do you stamp out that fear?