A Writer’s Greatest Fear

I don’t think it matters what stage of your writing you’re at, it strikes every writer. The newbies, the seasoned, the struggling, the best-selling. Every. Single. One. It’s a question that can derail you, undermine you. It’s the one question that will paralyse you.

Is my writing good enough?

I’ve asked myself the very same question. I’ve won competitions and bombed a couple. I’ve had readers tell me my book is the best they’ve ever read. I’ve had multiple rejections from publishers….for the same book which received two offers and a too-late request for a full.

But writing is a creative process that transforms dreams and images and thoughts into a physical medium. In other words, its art. And art is subjective. Meaning that question is impossible to answer. Your book might be the next Agatha Christie or Tolkien manifesto or Dickens classic. Or it might be bought up by friends and family and no one else.

And without clear evidence for the affirmative, your brain continues to ask the petrifying question, getting more and more worried about the outcome if it turns out to be a negative. It’s the perfect environment for doubt, procrastination and writers block to flourish.

So what do you do?

If you were a client sitting across from me, wondering if you’re chasing a pipe dream, maybe unable to write another word, possibly a book sitting for months (or years) in an unopened file on your computer, or struggling to click ‘send’ on your first or fiftieth submission, I would ask you another question.

First off all, I’d ask you to imagine its five years from today. You’re looking back on this time in your life, reflecting how hard it was for you, how scary. You’re noticing how it affected your choices – whether to write or not, to submit or not. Acknowledge the fear and the uncertainty, it’s a natural response because this is important to you.

Now this five-years-older-you thinks ‘yep, it was tough…but I’m really proud that I…’ I want you to finish that sentence. When you look back in five years what would you have done that would make you proud? Your answer will be guided by your values, those bits of us that we like, that we want to do more of.

And the answer is going to be unique for every individual. Are you going to be proud that even though there is no way to tell whether you’ll succeed, you tried anyway? Maybe you’d be proud that you wrote for the pure joy of it without needing any external validation.

Or would you be proud that you took some time out to step back and reflect? On spending some time honing your craft and taking your manuscript to the next level?

Would you be proud that you stopped? That you decided to focus on something else?

So I encourage you to answer that question – what would you be proud you did?

And then do it. No matter what your brain tells you, no matter how scary it feels, do what is important to you (and I’m going to hazard a guess that for many of us that means to WRITE). Make your future you proud.

I’d love to hear what your answer was, and whether it influenced your choices. Comments and feedback are always appreciated. Connecting with others is why I write. You can comment below, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

Have a wonderful week,




One comment

  1. Reblogged this on Amy Morris-Jones and commented:
    Somehow this post struck a a chord with me this morning. I’m in a bit of a “creative renaissance,” and this advice to imagine myself five years in the future is very useful in deciding where I go next. I hope it will appeal to you as well!


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