Such are the fears of the writer. They’re no different than the fears of anyone embarking on a new journey or dream. The difference, though, is that these fears often continue to stir long after one has achieved success.
The book market has been flooded with writers dreaming of becoming famous authors. It seems like everyone wants to write a book. Everyone has a story to tell. As an English teacher, I can’t lie—I find this to be a beautiful thing. I do believe everyone has a story to tell.
But, as an aspiring author, the question can become: how do I know if I should even try? What makes MY story so special that it deserves to be published?
You won’t ever know.
But how, then, can you know if writing your novel is something you should pursue?
Call of the Book
There seem to be so many reasons not to write that book. I know I struggled with them myself when I was writing Voice of Innocence. I felt like I was wasting my time, hours upon hours, on a project that might never see the light of day. I tried to let the excuses creep in, tried to rationalize why I shouldn’t write my story.
But the thing was, I couldn’t just stop. I mean I literally couldn’t. I decided to abandon the book…and it would creep in when I was taking a walk. The characters, the story begged to be finished. I felt like I’d abandoned friends, leaving them hanging in limbo with an uncertain future.
I continued to write and then abandon, write and abandon Voice of Innocence for years. All of the fears above wormed their way in.
But the call of the book, the need to tell the story, it always won out.
I had a student recently talk to me about having a book idea but struggling with whether she should write it. I asked her how and when the idea came to her. It turns out, she came up with it months ago and she just keeps expanding on it in her mind.
I told her she should go for it.
There is no easy answer to deciding if you should write the book. I can’t give you a formula or an equation or a survey.
All I can tell you is that if the pull of the book is strong enough to make you think about it, to make you wonder about it, if it is strong enough to last months if not longer, then go for it.
Will you be successful? Will your biggest fears up above come true?
But a true writer can’t let that get him or her down. A true writer’s eyes aren’t on the money or the fame. They’re on the story. They’re on finding relief from the uncontrollable stories bouncing around within, leaving him or her restless.
So You've Decided to Write Your Book
Congratulations! You’re going to pursue that idea. You’re going to spend hours upon hours crafting your tale. You’re going to send it out to publishers or agents. You’re going to open it up to the world.
The fears, the reserves, they’re gone, right?
I’d like to say yes. I’d like to say that once that last word is typed, the fears melt.
But they don’t.
Writing is a very introspective craft. To put that introspection on a platter and serve it to the world, whether it be to your friends, family, beta readers, publishers, or agents, is tough. In fact, I think once the book is finished, the fears increase tenfold.
Suddenly, you’re thinking:
1. Did I write an interesting enough story?
2. Will people pay for my book?
3. What if people think the characters are based on my real life?
4. Do I want people knowing my perspectives on these issues?
5. What if I have typos that are caught?
6. What if no one ever publishes my book?
7. What if the reviewers hate it?
8. What if people make fun of me for this book?
9. What if people don’t get it?
The list goes on and on.
I’ve had three books published now, and I can say that confidence does come with time. But these fears do still infiltrate my psyche from time to time. They do sometimes taunt me and my writing career dreams.
Being a writer is a tough path. There are always questions and doubts, fears and hesitations. But once you commit, once you leap that first hurdle of actually writing your book, I can tell you: it’s worth it.
You might never become a bestseller. You might not have thousands of fans. You might not have dozens of five-star reviews.
Then again, you just might.
Telling a story no one likes or no one buys or no one cares about is not a failure.
The only failure in writing is not telling your story in the first place.
For more inspiration or to decide if you have what it takes to be a writer, I recommend Stephen King’s On Writing.