Daily Archives: June 10, 2010

Strap on Your Writing Helmet

My youngest son is extremely coordinated.  He rolled over at 4 days and never quit.  By the time he was 8 months old he was running.  Yet I never worried for his safety around stairs or climbing on things.  He had, and still has, an innate respect for his own limitations.


The darn kid is petrified to ride his bike without training wheels.  His fear is so strong that at six and a half, he’d rather run somewhere than hop on his bike.  The farthest he’s ever pedaled is about 200 feet, and only then because his big brother ran in front of him the whole time.

This is a child who will take a ball to the face catching pitches, climb the swingset poles (12 feet high) and hand over hand his way across the top so he can slide down the other side.  He does both front and back flips off the diving board and can maneuver a golf cart into a parking spot.

Certainly he could ride his bike.  If he could get over his fear.

I’ve seen great writers sit idle for years for this same reason.  Regardless of how well they master the craft, their fear of rejection gets in the way of submitting; or they scribble away for years, penning great works, and never tell a sole about their addiction.

I was one of those.  Not a great writer.  But a writing scaredy cat.  Under the guise of making my manuscripts perfect, I tinkered endlessly and submitted very infrequently.  I used all kinds of excuses why I submitted to only one or two agents every eight or twelve months. 

Some of them were valid–like the fact that I am picky.  I didn’t/don’t want to waste an agent’s time.  Sometimes I’m truly making great improvements with a full manuscript edit and this requires time.  Other reasons included trying to understand the market and the viability of my projects.  However, when you get right down to it, I was a little scared of what might happen.

I think I was as afraid of success as I was of failure. 

In the past year, I opened my writing life up to the public.  (That writing closet was just getting too tight.)  I joined a few forums, embraced a writing community and told everyone that I was writing.  I’ve spoken about it publicly.  I’ve spoken about other things as well.  All these experiences have gotten me comfortable with the thought of success.  I have strapped on my bike helmet.

I know my youngest will do the same one day.  He will wake up and realize he’s missing an entire world by not riding his bike.  The excitement of what lies ahead will overcome his fear.  He, too, will strap on his helmet and never quit pedaling.

What are your biggest writing fears?  What steps have you taken to overcome them?  Do they keep you from truly enjoying the writing process or do they stifle your chance of success?

Strap on your helmets, writing buddies, and let’s ride!