Sometimes I feel like I’m in the unique position of having my fingers on the collective pulse of writers today. I talk to unbelievable amounts of writers every week. Some of them are my clients, some of them are new people thinking about becoming a client, and some of them are completely random strangers from the internet who email me to talk about writing. I talk to sci-fi writers and memoirists and bloggers and romance novelists and everything in between.
The thing that always astounds me is that almost every single one of these writers, sooner or later, brings the same problem to me.
I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to give up on writing.
This is not something people usually expect to hear. My circle of friends and colleagues know that writing is something I am deeply passionate about; it’s the thing I sacrifice my free time and extra sleep for, and the thing I seemingly never stop pursuing.
But what they don’t know is how many times I have really, seriously, TRULY thought about throwing in the towel.
There’s a lot of feel-good quotes and advice out there for writers on the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I need to hear this sort of stuff just as much as the next person. It IS important to “believe in yourself,” “just keep going,” and “never give up.”
As a writer in this brave new world of 2016 I have a lot of worries. I worry about what people will think about my book (particularly if certain family members or friends will read it and then think I’m a total weirdo). I worry about cover design (Is it eye-catching enough? Does it pull in the readers I want?). I worry about getting bad reviews. And I worry about the next book I’m writing.
These worries feel very big and real to me. Sometimes they even keep me up at night.
But then I’ll read a book by a writer who changes everything for me.
When I started writing my first novel I was scared to death. I didn’t even know it was a novel at that time, but I was terrified nonetheless. I was afraid of sounding stupid, of discovering I had no talent. I was petrified that I was being utterly presumptuous by even calling what I was doing “writing.” Me—a writer—what a joke!
But what really gave me that sickening feeling of fear was the act of physically sitting down in front of the blank page. It was so emotionally uncomfortable I felt like I would rather being doing anything else.