The Word: Top 15 Fears Writers Have

Every day writers face fears. Not from the storylines, they’re writing, though I’m sure are, the fears I’m talking about are fears of a different kind. Every writer whether well-known or just getting started have fears. These fears are rooted in the unknown and self-doubt often. In today’s article, we’ll address the top fifteen fears that are most common in the industry.

  • Not selling books
  • Readers not enjoying the work
  • Missing deadlines
  • Not finding the time to write
  • Receiving poor reviews
  • Forgetting to back-up their work
  • Lack of recognition
  • Writer’s block
  • Conveying story correctly
  • Rejection letters
  • Ideas stolen
  • Work is pirated
  • Plagiarism
  • The idea has already been done
  • Money to back a project

Now listing the top fifteen fears, how does one address them? Self-doubt is a terrible thing, especially if it goes hand-in-hand with an unwillingness to accept things you cannot change. The things you cannot change and must accept if you want a forward progression in your career are critical reviews, piracy, and not selling books. Readers not enjoying your work walks aside critical reviews, you cannot please everyone. The quicker you accept this the easier it’ll be on you.

Piracy happens. This was a personal hard pill to swallow. Most websites that post books are legitimate and will link to the proper buying locations, but from time to time you’ll find one that has a pdf or digital copy. Websites advertise books in a ‘store’ to pose as a proper book outlet, but it’s a scam to make a profit off of the traffic or illegally distribute work. Most will take down the item if you file a copyright claim, but often it still just won’t matter.

Years back one author came up with a very interesting way to track who was stealing their work. I cannot remember who it was, but the basic idea was watermarking the document. Whoever ended up with the stolen copy either got an incomplete ‘review only edition or a copy that declared it had been stolen if not gotten at x location. I love this idea.

Plagiarism is illegal, but it still happens to this day. You see it in the news authors suing another. Often the one being sued has used a shady ghostwriter. This gives ghostwriting a bad name. It also ruins the reputation of legitimate authors working months on a novel. If you discover your work is stolen or too closely copied, you really must seek legal aid. What also can happen, sad is one coming up with a brilliant idea unaware it’s already been done. It happens, but what you do upon discovering your idea is too close to something else it’s best to work on it more until it’s unique again. Ideas being stolen is sadly a problem too. Brainstorming with a friend is a great way to get the engine going, but there is no doubt it is risky if you don’t know that person very well. You risk your idea being stolen and written quicker than you can do it yourself.

Writers struggle to portray their stories exactly as they imagine them. It is hard for some to take the movie in their head and put it on paper properly. Editors can help in this area, but it is still a frustration before an editor can get ahold of the manuscript.
Rejection letters can bring up harsh feelings of others not liking your work. It’s part of the business and something I addressed in another The Word entry, The Word: A Quick Guide to Getting Signed.

Not selling books and not having the money to back a project can be hard. Not having money is part of why I started out doing everything myself. I freelanced as a graphic artist just to pay for editing, but learning everything else saved me money. I’ve seen the financial struggles that could’ve been and are going on every day with writers. I don’t have any magical money advice. There is no way to just get things done for free. Nothing is truly free.

I know that some work with a bartering system. Since networking is vital anyway an exchange of talent happens. For example: if a writer can edit very well, but cannot create a book cover they may find help from someone who can do the cover for some editing help. Even if you can back a project, it doesn’t guarantee the book will sell, most often that boils down to the marketing. Can’t sell books if you don’t reach the audience.

Money can be the primary motivation for many to write. I advise against it. If you’re in this business only for the money, you’ll become frustrated quickly when the money doesn’t come. No one gets famous instantly. No one makes money out the gate. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. A lot of work has to go into it before the money is ever seen.

Not finding time to work is everyone’s struggle. This leads to missing deadlines in most cases. A word here or there, a paragraph at lunch, or even scribbling on a napkin. If you can find even the smallest minute, you can progress the story even if it’s at a slow pace. This is also a fix for writer’s block, but it doesn’t always work and not for everyone.

Recognition comes in time. I was recognized as a graphic designer before I was ever known for writing. Sometimes your known for one thing and not another. All I can say is keep at it. It’ll change.

Have you ever faced some situations before? Have you discovered your own solutions to the above issues? Let’s talk about it.