Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Novel?

whoseafraidofthebigbadnovel“We are so scared of being judged that we look for every excuse to procrastinate.” -Erica Jong

Irony is a writer who doesn’t write. A person who voraciously reads, loves to tell a good story, and declares “writer” as a profession yet paradoxically doesn’t write.

So, why does a person proclaiming to want to be a writer not write?

Some possibilities are time constraints, inadequate environment, insufficient support and/or unsatisfactory ideas. Although these may be contributing factors, they’re usually not the reason that a writer doesn’t write. The reason is often more innate and insidious.

How many sentences have you deleted? How many pages have you thrown into the trash? How many thoughts of inadequacy plague your mind until your only thought is of your own failure? Why?

The answer is fear.

It’s the fear of rejection. Failure. A blank page is intimidating but far more frightening is the prospect that the way in which you fill it will be met with criticism, negativity or even worse—nothing.

The fear can be so all encompassing that it becomes paralyzing causing a writer to do anything but write.

So, how does a writer overcome the fear? The answer is both beautifully simplistic in theory yet extremely difficult in practice.

They write.

The only way to overcome fear is to face it. And since this particular fear is a manifestation of doubt and uncertainty, you must push past your insecurities in order to defeat them. Silence the negative self-talk and thoughts by listening to your “voice.” The one that allows you to write the stories you know you can and should write.

However, if that “voice” is currently hard to hear above the din of all the others shouting that you will fail, here is a quick 5 step process to help you move past the negative noise.

Recognize it: Before you can move past your insecurities and fear of rejection, you must first recognize that they exist. Know that this is the reason you don’t write. It’s not about the lack of time. Nor content. Nor ideas. (Unless, of course, it is then you must reference a different list).

Understand it: Figure out on what your insecurities are based by analyzing the source of your doubt. Has your writing been previously rejected? Do you not have career support from family and friends?

Acknowledge it: Admit that fear, and your particular reason for it, is why you don’t write.

Accept it: Accept that you are insecure, unsure, uncertain—afraid. Accept that criticism stings and rejection hurts.

Use it: Write in spite of the fear. Use it as the impetus to prove you are stronger than your doubts. Every time that little voice says you can’t, let each typed word be your battle cry that you can!

So, keep the sentence. Pull the pages from the trash. Believe in yourself. And, most importantly, write.

Because in the words of bestselling author Nora Roberts, “You can fix anything but a blank page.” After all, you can always edit, proof, and rewrite your book but only if you have written it.

And once you do, the pride of overcoming your fear will enable you to face the potential criticism and rejection to find the audience who appreciates your stories, your style and your voice.

So, I ask again. Who’s afraid of the big bad novel?

Thank you for reading. I’m excited to hear what you think.


4 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Novel?

  1. Thank you for sharing the link to this post! I definitely need to apply this list to my own situation whenever I find myself avoiding my novel. I already had read the other one about how to cook up a good book! I feel so lucky to have found your blog, as it appears I really need your advice on a regular basis! :}

    1. Thank you so much, Evelyn for reading and commenting. I am so glad that you have found my blog posts to be helpful. As writers, we are in this together. We should always form a community of support. 🙂

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About Sherry Parnell