Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Take Action in the Midst of Your Writing Fears

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” 
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Ive read this quotation in a number of places and many different contexts.  It is a solid action step for every writer. 

Why? Because from my experience, fear can prevent us from taking action and moving forward with our writing. Will anyone want to read what I'm writing?  Will it sell? Can I find a publisher or literary agent? Is my writing good enough to publish in   a magazine or book? The questions in our minds can appear endless.

While I've published a great volume of material over the years, if I'm honest, I have a number of fears that I face each day. The key from my perspective is are you taking action with your writing in spite of those fears.  I have my ideas and pitches rejected and don't hit the mark—yet I continue pitching my ideas and looking for opportunities.

Years ago as a new writer, I was at a conference sitting around with several more experienced and published authors. It was late at night and I was learning a great deal from these new friends. One author who had published a number of books mentioned how every time he begins a new project he had huge doubts and fears in his mind. He wondered if he could do it and if the book would succeed. In the same breath where he mentioned these fears, he explained that he pushed ahead and beyond the fear to write the book. It's the key distinction between those who want to write and those who actually write: they push ahead and take action in spite of the negative thoughts and fears.

Possibly today your manuscript or book proposal is getting rejection letters from agents or editors. From my experience, you have not found the right place for your book when you get rejected. It means you have to keep looking for that right connection or champion. When the rejection arrives (even if that rejection is through no response), you face a critical choice.  You can either take action and seek another opportunity or you can quit and not respond.  Many authors will send out their material one or two times, get rejected and figure no one wants to work with them and publish their submission. Their writing fears have stalled them into no action.  

When you have writing fears, there are several things:

1. Everyone has these fears. Whether they admit them or not, you should understand it is part of the process.

2. The writers who get published, understand timing and the right connection are a critical part of the process. You have to be proactive to find the right connection with your material.

3. Rejection is a part of publishing. Everyone gets rejected—beginners and long-term professionals. The key is what do you do with the rejection. Do you quit or do you look for the next opportunity?

I believe the world is full of opportunity—yet as a writer you have to make the right connection and have to be facing your fears and continuing to move forward with your writing. One of the most published series of books in English is Chicken Soup for the Soul. What many people forget is Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen were rejected on their proposed series 144 times. Now that is a lot of rejection. I'm sure they had fears to face, yet they continued moving forward. You can get some of their story in the foreword for Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Just follow this link to download the foreword and free sample chapter (no opt-in and you can download immediately).

For your encouragement and inspiration, remember this saying. If you need to do so, I would write it out and put it over your computer and read it often:

It will not fly, if you don't try.
Let me know what action steps you are taking to overcome your fears in the comments below. I look forward to reading your insights.

 W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to SucceedOne of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 200,000 twitter followers


Karen Cioffi said...

Terry, this is such sound advice. Every writer faces fear about rejection or even self-doubt about their writing skills. As you mention, writers need to keep on writing and submitting. I always remember that it took Chicken Soup for the Soul 144 rejections before hitting the target. Imagine if the gave up after 50 rejection, after 100 rejection. The point is don't give up. Thanks for sharing!

Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for this comment. We all face fears as writers but need to keep searching for the right fit for our writing. It's not easy--and if it were easy everyone would do it.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I truly love this post, @TerryWhalin. One of the fears I see most frequently among my clients is the "fear of marketing." That is usually the result of misunderstanding what great marketing is. Dissing commercial endeavors is kind of a cultural pastime which seems strange in a capitalist society. Great marketing isn't about US. It's about our readers. When we remember that, marketing can be great fun and even creative.
Many hugs to you. I love your books.

Terry Whalin said...


Yes I can understand how many authors dislike marketing yet as PT Barnum said years ago, "Without promotion, something terrible happens. Nothing." Authors want to delegate marketing to someone else--but need to do it because they are the person with the greatest passion for the book and will continue way beyond anyone else. Thank you for this valuable comment and your insights. Hugs to you too.

Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for this feedback. I believe it is comforting to know that each of us have fears yet the ones who succeed in this world move beyond the fears and take action in spite of them. Pulling for you with your new book.


deborah lyn said...

Comment from Linda Wilson - held back for approval by new Blogger format - I'm stepping in to resolve. Sorry Linda - deborah

Thank you for your helpful article, Terry. As I navigate marketing for the first time your article is helpful for the overwhelming feelings I'm combating at the moment. Linda

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