I know we’re pretty far away from Halloween still, but I thought I’d talk about something scary anyway. It’s a fear of all writers at all stages of their career.
This, my friends, is the fear of starting.
Starting, no lie is scary as hell. I’m scared every time I start a new series, even a new book. I’m scared every time I send something to an editor or publisher. Even when it’s Solstice, who’s accepted three of my short stories and three of my novels. (Click here to see my full list of published works.) I’m scared of every new beginning because beginning something new is a scary thing.
Of course, it’s not the starting that’s really scary. It’s the thought that we might fail in what we’ve started. And that fear has had the power to cripple better writers than me.
You would think, the number of books I’ve published, that this fear of starting would never come calling for me again. But it does, oh boy it does. Probably because I still get rejected. (That’s right. A published book helps, but it doesn’t open all doors.)
The thing I keep telling myself, over and over, is that rejection is nothing to be afraid of. I haven’t quite convinced myself of this, but I have at least decided to act like I believe it. And really, it comes out to the same. Rejection doesn’t hurt you one little, tiny bit. You lose absolutely nothing by having a piece of work rejected.
But what about the people who will criticize you for being rejected? Fuck them. #Sorrynotsorry. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never been criticized for failing by anyone who’s ever done a damn thing in their lives. It’s always some lazy git who’s too scared of starting. They don’t like that you’re braver than them, so forget them.
But what about all the time you’ll waste writing if you don’t succeed? Well, there’s a great quote by Earl Nightingale. “Don’t give up on a dream because of the time it will take. The time will pass anyway.” And let’s be honest, I enjoy the time I spend writing. I don’t write to get paid, I write to write. So it can never be a waste of time.
And let’s be fair, the worst anyone can say is no. If they say no, then it just means you submit somewhere else.
By the way, if you need more inspiration to begin, Deciding To Start is coming out on Friday. It’s full of inspirational essays for the beginning writer. I’ve pulled the best blog posts from the first two years of Paper Beats World to build an e-book that I hope will inspire you to let go of your fear and decide to start.