We can all find excuses for not writing: our job, the family, I’ll get to it when I retire…  After all, unless you’re getting paid for it and have a deadline, what’s the rush? However, life soon passes you by, and before you know it, you’re coming up to retirement and still finding reasons not to start.

Despite your excuses, you perpetually have that burning desire to write your story, so what’s REALLY stopping you?  Is it fear, emotions or time management?

Fear of Rejection

If we’re honest, I think we all fear that our writing may not be up to scratch or that it will be rejected. About ten years ago I joined a writing group and an older lady that I admired gave me such harsh feedback on my story, bordering on nasty, actually, that I didn’t write for about two years afterwards. I agreed with what she said, but the way she said it totally knocked my confidence, although she later apologised for being so ruthless.

Over time, I’ve penned so many pieces that have just sat doing nothing. I didn’t send them off because I feared someone would tell me they’re rubbish again, and then what would I have done? I love writing.  Now, I ask myself, ‘But what if I’m actually good or my story is interesting to others? How much time have I wasted?’ So, I started to send things off. It’s not easy; it’s like the first time you leave your baby with a childminder – you have to learn to let go, but if you do your research and send to appropriate places, you will not end up with egg on your face, at least.

OHI0232-TearyRejectionLetterWriting is a bit like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder. I have met one or two well-known TV writers, whose work has now become a household name, but their writing was initially rejected. Some went ten years before their work came to fruition, so all writers struggle. A lot of it is to do with luck, and whether the person who gets to see your work finds it interesting at that time. Sometimes, even politics plays a part, so a rejection doesn’t automatically mean your work is bad.

I’ve had a few rejections that have been encouraging. They liked my article or story, but they didn’t have a place for it within their current topics, but they wanted to see more of my work. In the main you don’t always get a reply, let alone feedback; it’s like gold-dust or you have to pay for it, so I look at any feedback in a positive way and learn from it. This taught me that I needed to do a bit more research and tailor my articles to the sort of topics they require.

Until you take that first step into the big wide world, you will never know if your work is any good or not and you’ll remain trapped by your fear.

Emotions may play a part

I imagine the first novel most of us write has some personal involvement. It makes sense for our first book to be about something we know; it may be your memoirs or a story close to the heart. You have all this information already in your heads; you don’t have to think too hard about characters or plot and yet you still can’t get started. Is it, perhaps, because writing your story means you have to face those emotions, and you’re not sure if you’re ready to do that?

You should do it! I agree that it’s like going to therapy and sometimes it can be tough, but from my own experience it can be quite cathartic. It can help to put things into perspective, to see things differently sometimes and, yes, you may weep, but when it’s over you can move on. Who knows, your story may have an impact on others or, as in my case, it released me and I was able to move on to write other things.

What stops you from getting started?

Copyright © Helena Johnson 2013


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