I recently caught some flak for reposting a comic on my Facebook author page, because the comic contained profane language. If I offended anyone, I’m sorry. However, the irony of the comic is that it was about how fear of rejection and judgment by family members can keep you from finishing your novel. As in, “I can’t let my (mother, sister, daughter, wife, son, husband, father, brother) read this! So I might as well put it on a shelf and go back to the gardening.”
Granted, there are probably more mature and creative ways of saying it, rather than a plethora of four-letter words. But the point was clear: fear can paralyze you as a writer.
Fear in almost every capacity keeps us from being fully alive. Fear of vulnerability, fear of loss, there are all kinds of fear that hold us back personally and spiritually. But fear of rejection and judgment are biggies in the writing world. These fears can kill your writing dream. And I mean, kill it dead.
If you want to be a closet writer – the kind of writer whose great-grand-relative discovers stacks of unpublished manuscripts after your funeral forces an estate sale – then fear of rejection isn’t a problem. Write, (wo)man, write! No holds barred. Who’s gonna read it anyway? And who cares what they think? You’ll be long gone by then.
But if you want to be a published writer, if you want your work in the hands of strangers and friends alike, then expect to be rejected. And judged. And misunderstood. A lot. Starting with the first agent you query and ending with the critic who lambasts your last written words. Some days it’ll roll off your back like water off a duck. Other days it will sting like a fat-tailed scorpion.
That’s because being a writer isn’t about pleasing everyone. It’s not about endless accolades without risk. Writing is about diving into the human experience and coming back up with words to describe both the joy and sorrow here on earth. It’s about pain and bliss and heartache. It’s extreme and unapologetic, and some people just won’t get it. That’s okay. They don’t have to. They don’t even have to read what you wrote.
Want to know the single most important difference between unpublished writers and the published ones? Here it is: Published writers are willing to face rejection and judgment. Over and over and over again, from personal and public sources.
Nobody ever said writing would be easy. But wow, there is nothing else quite like it.