The 5 Different Monsters Hiding in Writers’ Closets

Today’s guest post is by Kleia Paluca.

All writers, both beginning and published ones, have something to fear. That’s because writing can be a personal ordeal, and everyone has their monsters.

As Hemingway said: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

For many of us writers, there’s nothing as terrifying as baring our soul through our writing. We’re offering it up for others to pick apart and criticize. It’s this kind of lambasting that we writers would do anything to avoid.

You would think that we’d be done with monsters by now. After all, we’re not exactly nine years old anymore. But as logical and experienced as we believe ourselves to be, we’re still plagued by monsters of a different kind that freeze us in our tracks and prevent us from living life to the fullest.

These monsters are our fears, and we writers have at least one or two of them hiding in our closet.

From my experience and from talking to several of my writer friends, I’ve identified five common monsters that are constantly casting a shadow over our writing careers. And I’m introducing them to you in the hope that we can all grow from facing these monsters.

Monster 1: Fear of Failure

Let me introduce you to the first and most menacing monster lurking within every writer’s closet: our fear of failure.

It’s a pervasive fear that has killed so many writing careers before they had a chance to start. The statistics are overwhelming: about one out of every five hundred writers make it. And we’re only counting the published authors, including those who self-publish their work.

Some writers would call themselves a failure for not publishing anything. Others for not being recognized even after they do get published. Some writers aim for an annual income of $50,000 from their books. And when they earn less than this amount, they’re quick to brand themselves as failures.

Failure is a shapeshifting beast, much like the boggarts in Harry Potter. It stems from thoughts of career-crippling self-doubt, and it can even disguise itself as another fear without you noticing. But real writers learn to live with this fear. You can’t get rid of it completely; you can only learn to manage it.

We’ll look more into how to deal with this monster at the end of this post.

Monster 2: Fear of Rejection

Much like death and taxes, rejection is unavoidable. And everyone, writers included, has this monster in their closets, yet their sizes may vary. Some writers are so afraid of rejection that they completely avoid doing anything that may elicit rejection. Writing, unfortunately, isn’t for the faint of heart.

This monster isn’t so imaginary. In fact, it’s unavoidable—much like death and taxes. But rejection is a ball that gets thrown at every single writer, sometimes hundreds or thousands of times. And you know what? It will keep on being thrown at you, so you can at least prepare for it and just deal with the pain when it does hit you.

Rejection is not always a monster to run away from. Some would say it’s the only monster that helps bring out the best in you. Whenever you get rejected for something, ask how you could have done better. Get as much feedback as you can. This helps you build up resilience to face criticism and take on more challenging tasks.

Monster 3: Fear of Being Inadequate

Most writers I’ve come across are people with a profound desire to affect change. We often have something to prove, and we beat ourselves up because of it.

This monstrous fear of being inadequate is a close cousin to our fear of failing because often we think we have failed because we are inadequate. Maybe you don’t quite believe you have a talent for writing. That’s okay. Or maybe you think you have talent but are afraid of being told otherwise. Then you also have the second monster, the fear of rejection, following you around.

Writing is not for the faint of heart. To get anywhere, sometimes it is necessary to soldier on. Never mind that you feel you aren’t good enough. Never mind that you don’t believe you have what it takes yet. Keep on writing with the thought that, eventually, you’re going to become a great writer. Because, before you know it, you are going to grow into that person. But you must keep on writing.

“It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
– Robert Benchley

Monster 4: Fear of Being Too Old or Too Young

There is never a good time to be a writer. I don’t care what anyone tells you. When you feel it is the right time for you, then it is. And whether fame comes to you shouldn’t matter. Because if you really love writing, then you are at the perfect age to be a writer.

Being a 15- or 50-year-old writer can both be beautiful. Each has their own strengths, their own unique views, and their own creative process that sets them apart. Your age and everything else about you is what makes you the kind of writer you should be. Embrace it.

Monster 5: Fear of Success

And on the other side of the spectrum is the writer’s fear of success.

This monster is the most dangerous of all. Why? Because it’s often the main reason so many of us sabotage our own successes. The moment we notice our writing careers start to gain traction, we do something stupid.

The moment you become popular, it suddenly hits you: everyone’s eyes are on you.

We’re afraid of what success could mean, of the responsibilities that come with it. Unfortunately, it’s this monster that also keeps thousands of writers from making it big. They don’t want to deal with the consequences.

I’m not saying every writer should strive to be famous. Because I think we crave self-expression and enjoy the process of literary creation more than anything else. That could be what success means for you. If so, fantastic. But fearing success means you’re going to do something to make sure you don’t get it.

You Can Overcome

The good news is that you can overcome your fears, your monsters. Now, you may not be able to get rid of them completely, but you can control them. And when you’re in control, the sky’s the limit for you as a writer.

Here’s how you can tame the monsters that are hiding in your closet right now:

  1. Turn your fears into rocket fuel.

Take a moment to think of the things you fear can do you serious harm. Do yourself a favour and challenge yourself to face those fears. It doesn’t have to be related to writing.

Confidence is something that spreads into all aspects of your life. So just do something to challenge yourself, and you’ll soon find your monsters aren’t as scary anymore.

  1. Write, even when you don’t want to.

Writing is one of those things that you can’t get worse at by doing more of it. Free yourself through writing. Get unhinged if necessary. Start with 500 words a day, then work to writing 1,000 words a day. It’s a muscle that you can build the more you use it, and it’s absolutely going to do you good.

  1. Keep your thoughts in check all the time.

The moment you notice your thoughts sounding unreasonable or exhausting, take a step back. Your monsters may be starting to take a more physical form, keeping you from being the best writer you can be. Remember: you become what you think about. So, don’t think that you’re a failure unless that’s exactly what you want to become.

When we start to realize that we can take control of our fears, or monsters, we’ll start to see our life change for the better. We may not be able to get rid of these monsters completely. That’s not possible. What is possible is our ability to control how we react to certain situations that come up in our writing career.

The struggle we writers face could fill volumes if we were to write them all down. Fortunately, we can still do something. We can stand up to our monsters, show them who’s boss, and know how to better deal with them every time they do appear.

Kleia Paluca is a blogger and digital marketer. She unapologetically devours all types of literature, enjoys organic farming, and believes that coffee is a necessity to living a happy life. While she considers digital marketing her first love, she also writes on many other topics such as self-improvement and career advancement. Kleia is with HostingFu.com. Also, you can find her on LinkedIn.

6 Responses to “The 5 Different Monsters Hiding in Writers’ Closets”

  1. Priscilla Bettis July 23, 2018 at 3:12 am #

    So many truths in this post! I am a novice who is pressing forward despite the monsters, but it sounds like the monsters never go away, even for accomplished authors.

  2. TALYA BOERNER July 23, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    On pointe! I especially relate to #5. So many writers are introverts and the fear of success is very real.

  3. Sue MacDonald July 23, 2018 at 2:17 pm #

    You are so right! I always knew I could write but it took being a support person for a student in a creative writing class to get me back into it. That was ten years ago and a degree in fine art and I’m still going. The academic writing required for the degree was immensely helpful for the major creative writing project I’m immersed in at present. Meanwhile the monsters are sent to the Naughty Step while I press on…

  4. Marty Knox July 24, 2018 at 6:49 am #

    On rejection: As a divorced single mom with 6 kids I worked outside sales newspaper ads. The more No’s you hear the closer you are to a YES. I supported my children & listened to NO’s all day long in 120 heat in Phoenix AZ. NO gets you closer to YES. It’s a funnel, keep filling the funnel with NOs. I provided useful content FREE, hard to turn down FREE. I offered my potential clients a FREE 8.5 x 11-inch flyer mockup to use as they wished. I printed a book on “How to reach the Market in the East Valley” a giveaway also with facts and figures about the growing market potential in the East Valley. I did not push people. Instead of a cold call, I called them warming up calls. Heard a lot of NO’s. The numbers are;100 potential clients to get 100 warm calls, 100 warm calls to get 1 appointment. It takes 100 appointments to get 1 sale. Brutal but true. It takes 100 content blog posts to get 1 comment. 100 comments to get 1 potential reader, 100 potential readers, to get 1 book sale. Likewise in publishing FREE Sample, ARCS, Look Inside, Reviews, etc. Keep filling the funnel.Actually, I do better than that. 100 ARC and FREE e-book giveaways made 18 actual pre-orders before the print book was published. No’s = Sales!

  5. Marty Knox July 24, 2018 at 7:14 am #

    I’ve bought Lakin’s set of books both in e-book format and print. I also bought a 3rd print set as a giveaway for a prize in the Missouri Writers Guild. I think she gives great practical no-nonsense advice to writers. Ready to re-read all of them because I’m starting a new book in my series. #1 on my reference shelf. So it’s back to basics. Plot, Story, Character, Scenes.

  6. Victoria Marie Lees July 24, 2018 at 1:16 pm #

    Oh so many truths here. And they can also be used for any journey that takes courage to start. Thanks so much, Kleia.

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