1. Drmoses
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    Drmoses Member

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    How do you get over the fear?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Drmoses, Jan 21, 2015.

    I'm heavily invested in writing a book at the moment and I think its good. I can't escape the fear that when push comes to shove and I finish and edit this thing, I'll have some people read it and they will tell me its terrible.

    So for you guys who've finished something, how did you get over that fear?

    Weren't you scared you would be told that its terrible and its a redo?

    And if you wrote something and god forbid you were told it was awful, how did you pick that figurative pen back up and try again?

    I'm probably being irrational but the more I put into this, the more it crosses my mind haha.
     
  2. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    I'd say that if you're looking for feedback then you should put that forward clearly and embrace every response you get back until you've made the necessary changes or found justifiable reasons to disregard their advice. If, on the other hand, you don't want critique, for whatever reason are unable to make any (further) changes or you're just past that stage in the writing process, you should just try to get it published as soon as possible and listen to as few responses as possible before it is. Then, after it's published, you can go back and learn from your successes and failures if you want to, but be aware that you may end up nagging yourself for any puny errors you may have made.

    Also remember that there's a place and time for editing, but that before that is the time for uninhibited writing. And don't lose sight of the fact that quality is more important than release dates: the latter is important, but nothing matters if the work hasn't been put into the product itself. Despite all of this it's always good to make sure you have as much time to reread and rewrite as you can to avoid as many future issues as possible, even though this process can be unbelievably tedious.

    One last thing: You're a writer, right? You have a plan? You know what you're doing? If not, you probably have to reconsider a huge part of your life (although that's better than wasting the next year or whatever of your life doing something incredibly demanding, yet brutally unrewarding). If you do: Great! You should have the confidence to write the way you write, research the way you research etc. and to accept or refuse feedback based on your own decision-making skills. Make a plan, see it through, make adjustments when necessary as you go along and hope for the best: it's that simple! :-D Good luck.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You need to have someone read it now. Don't wait until it's done, don't expect it to be perfect without any feedback along the way. Because it's unlikely to be very good on your own. I mean, it's possible, but it's not likely.

    The good thing is, it doesn't need to be.

    I wasn't afraid, but I also knew the first stuff I wrote was pretty bad. That gave me an advantage. I just said so to the critique group. The thing is, you need to stop tying your ego to your work, at least until you get that feedback that it's good.

    As long as you know you can get better, it's becomes OK not to be the best writer. If you are convinced you are the best thing since sliced bread, then critiques can be painful. If you think you have to be good right now or you fail, then good luck with that first critique or beta read. You're going to need it.
     
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  4. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're not being irrational. It's normal for someone to worry about failing in something that they care about.

    You described two different things in your post: escaping the fear and getting over the fear. You likely will never "escape" the fear, and that's fine. Don't try to escape from it; accept it as a normal thing, and you might see wonders in your ability to move past it.

    Remember that criticism is not failure. If you are committed to your writing and are willing to put in the time to improve upon it, criticism can only be a way for you to improve your writing.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This ^
     
  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Accept that someone might tell you it's terrible. Ask why it's terrible if they say so. See if you can do something about it to make it less terrible. If their feedback is vague or irrational, your work is most likely not terrible. You need to also believe in yourself and your abilities, as tacky as that may sound. If you did your homework about writing, if you know what you are doing at least to a degree, you'll feel much more confident and facing negative feedback is less devastating.

    If you did like I did at the beginning and just churned out something with no regard to how to write effectively, the chances are you'll be met with criticism, but when I did, I didn't feel all that bad, I felt like I had to grow, develop and improve.

    Put my ego aside and be willing to learn. Also, I study English and I'm a teacher, so I've made sure I also know something, so when people tell me I've done goof, I can be critical of the feedback (not la-la-la critical, but I can evaluate it quite objectively). Educate yourself, so you'll feel much more confident.

    I learned pretty quickly the first draft is a redo by default (unless you're a genius), so no worries, I can't expect to be awesome right from the get-go.

    I put my emotions aside and approached it with an editor's hat on. Yeah, I've invested a lot in this. A lot of time. So much time. But it's not time wasted 'cause I've loved almost every second of it.

    Forget your ego. Egos are fragile and precious. They're troublemakers. Set it aside and be willing to learn. Not just from your critics or beta-readers but also from books, teachers, fellow-writers, editors etc.

    And don't worry about something that hasn't happened yet. You're not alone with these fears, but they're overcome-able. Besides, this is the fun part, right? You'll get to perfect your product, really make it shine. :)
     
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  7. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I get people to read it
     
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  8. Carly Berg
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    Carly Berg Contributing Member

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    If putting your baby up to be shredded seems too steep, why not take a smaller risk and just post the first chapter at first? Also, plenty of the mistakes we make, we do throughout the manuscript so getting some help in smaller bits as you go along leaves less criticism for the overall book when you're finished.
     
  9. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with @KaTrian in that someone, possibly many someones are going to tell you that your book is terrible. Take that as a given before you even put the manuscript out the door. Not even the greatest of writers were free of harsh criticism. In most cases, the harshest critics are also the least objective and fair. Often they will hate it because they already have preconceptions of how such stories should go, and nothing else will ever satisfy them.

    If the criticism involves real, objective errors, then you just have to learn from them. If possible (eg. ebooks) issue a revised edition.

    Criticisms of style and characterisation are harder. Even top selling novels will have conflicting reviews, some saying the characters are handled well, while others will say they are flat and lifeless. It is likely that you will never be able to please both parties.

    You will also have reviewers who thought your book was something else (romance vs erotica, character based vs action and so on). Some of these reviews will make no sense at all.

    In the end, if your book is good, it will find its audience, although it may be a very select and limited one.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Keep in mind that it takes a lot of time and effort to learn how to write effectively. It takes a lot of reading of quality works to see how stories are presented, what methods are used. It also takes a lot of trial and error.

    There's an oft-repeated saying that the first million words you write are practice. I think the number varies from writer to writer, but in general I suspect it's usually higher. It certainly has been for me (the first draft of my first novel attempt was over 400,000 words).

    My advice at this point is to work as hard as you can on making what you are writing the best it can be. That means getting feedback - responsible feedback. All critiques are not created equal. Members of this forum bring a wide variety of experience, learning and tastes.

    THIS!!!^ To which I would add, if the criticism doesn't specify and explain a real, objective error (e.g. POV problem, lack of character development, spoonfeeding the reader, filtering, insufficient quote attribution, lack of setting), you are perfectly justified in ignoring it.

    Whenever I read a published work that really grabs me, I go back and read it a second time to look at the author's style and technique. How did (s)he develop a character? Unfold the plot? Paint the setting? Were there aspects of the setting that became a character unto themselves? How did (s)he manage that? Then I see what, if anything, I can incorporate into my own writing.

    When I go back and re-read that first novel attempt of mine (which I eventually edited down to a more manageable 140,000 words), I'm tempted to cringe at what I thought at the time was a great work. But I don't. It was a first step, and I learned a great deal from writing it and getting critique on it. Given its real purpose - a first step - it is great.

    So, please - go. Read, consider, write, read, consider, write some more, get responsible critique, evaluate the critique, write some more...you get the idea.

    Best of luck.
     
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  11. NewEnterprise
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    NewEnterprise Member

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    After I put effort into something nobody can make me feel bad about it, because I know I like it :)

    If I put it out for others to enjoy, it's up to them whether they do or not! I liked the final Hobbit movie, but I'm not upset when people tell me it was atrocious haha

    "F*** everyone else" as my grandpa would tell me :angle:
     
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  12. Jenurik Name
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    Jenurik Name Member

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    To me, it's a life philosophy kind of thing.

    I like it when I see something as it truly is. When I take an exam I studied my ass off for, and barely make the middle of the bell curve. When I read something in the news that just kind of awkwardly exists, in defiance of political correctness.

    I like reality. We all need reality checks, at every stage of the process. If I write something that turns out to be terrible, then I want to find out as soon as possible.

    Not that I've really written anything and shown it to a friend yet, but when the time comes, that won't be what stops me from reaching my goals.
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Learn that whatever people say, that's just one opinion, their personal opinion. Take what you can from it, learn what you can from it, and then get back to your book and say "I'll do better this time!" and then do it. As long as you're improving, that's all that matters.

    Find critics who are gentle but constructive - I don't believe you should take criticism just because it's criticism. You should rather find someone who knows how to handle you and your work with respect, and gently, who will nonetheless tell you the painful truth - and the truth is, sure, some of what you've written probably sucks.

    Steer clear away from critics who seem to bash and bash without mercy and without regard for your feelings. Whether their comments are true or not, if all it does is crush your confidence, I can't see that as a helpful thing. Sometimes taking advice from the wrong person can be more damaging.

    You just have to ask yourself: well, how much do you want to write? And if you want to keep writing, then you keep writing. To some extent you simply must believe in yourself. Accept that there will always be things you can improve, and accept that there will always be a few who'll hate your work. Write and get enough experience so you can tell the difference between good advice and bad advice, so you can learn when to simply ignore a critic and when to take it on board. Grow a thick skin - you've got to.

    And at the end of the day, believe this: You're a good writer.

    You have to believe it, or none of us would write. To some extent, all of us on here believe we're good writers, that we've got it in us to become good or even great writers. For me, as long as I know this isn't where I'm staying, then that's enough. Who cares if I suck ass right now? The point is, I won't suck forever. And really, when I look back at the stuff I wrote when I was 14, I've come a long way. So who's to say I won't be the next Oscar Wilde in ten years' time? :p (I know I won't, but my point is, who knows how good I'm gonna become in ten years' time? And that's exciting to think about, and worth working towards)

    And really, when all is said and done, just have fun :) Never forget to have fun. As long as you're excited about it, who has the right to tell you to stop? And why should you? And what excites you is bound to excite somebody else :)
     
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  14. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    With good there's always bad. Sometimes you just got to throw your story out there and hope for the best, because you can never really tell if people are going to like it. If you like it though I'm sure someone else out there is also bound to like it though. ;)
     
  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I try not to think about that part when I write. During the first draft I write it almost entirely for me, for the joy of exploring, of telling a story to myself. Only when I've finished, and let it sit for a while, then having re-read it, I decide if it's something I want to show someone for feedback. But I never send rough drafts to my beta readers. When they get it, I have usually spend quite some time rewriting parts, thinking about what could and should be improved and so on, plus worked on the language and voice and stuff like that. What they get is as "ready" as I can make it myself, and that way it doesn't feel as scary letting someone else in, because I know I have something that according to my own standards is acceptable. It can always improve, of course, but that is why I let people read it for feedback. To fix the things I don't see myself.
     
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  16. DaveOlden
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    DaveOlden Member

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    So 'heavily invested' that when someone judges the book, you feel they're judging you?

    That's natural, I suppose. We creatives invest our hearts and passions in our work. Goes with the job (and infuses the work with life...)

    But my suggestion for you is an emphatic one (and you might plug your ears, here. Don't worry, you'll still be able to hear me through fingers)...

    Criticisms or critiques or judgments or heck, even ignorant insults, don't matter. None of it is about you. They're talking about the book.

    It's all suggestions. All of it. If a suggestion can change the story for the better, say thank you and revise accordingly.

    If a suggestion would diminish the story, say thank you and let the comment go.

    (I learned the above, from remembering what a pro-writer said about collaborating with his writing partner: When they argue (and they do) it's the ideas that do battle -- not them!).
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2015
  17. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    Its simple really, the fear that I won't finish what I'm working on outweighs the fear that people won't like it. If I finish at least I can be proud of myself for finishing.
     
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  18. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with DaveOlden that it's important to separate yourself from the MS as much as you can.

    One thing I like to do is put a book aside for a while after I'm done my first draft (I don't usually do too many drafts, so it's pretty clean at this point). And then, the part that's important for what you're looking at right now, is I get to work on something else. Usually I do a full draft of it, too, and then maybe I go back and look at the first MS, improve what I can and then send it out, either to editors or betas. And then I forget about it by working on something else again. If people come back to me with criticism of the first book, it's essentially a nuisance or an academic exercise - I'm no longer emotionally invested in that book because I'm busy with something else, now.

    By the time the first book is published and getting reviews, I barely remember what it's about, and I sure as hell don't care too much if people don't like it. That book is ancient history. It was the best I could do then, but I've grown a lot since.

    I think this is harder to do with your first book, but I think it's a valuable mindset if you can attain it. You're not "The Writer of Book A", you're just a writer. Book A was one of many efforts you've made. It's all a process, and you just keep moving forward.
     
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  19. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    I think I wasn't afraid that people will hate it. Somehow, I knew that they won't. Partly, because I personally liked it (and I believe that when you write, you should write something that will be perfect for you in that moment. You know, like, if you want to read a perfect book, you'll have to write one. The one that will be perfect for you; don't bother about the others too much). And because I was honest and truthful while doing my writing.
    I guess I was more afraid of that honesty; I felt like I will expose my soul to my readers. I think it takes real courage to be a writer, because the whole world will be able to see your heart, if they know how to look.
    But there was fear at first. I remember, years ago, when I was just starting, I was trembling when I gave couple of pages to friends to read. It was like there was something precious to me, a piece of my soul, bare and unprotected, waiting to be judged. But now, after I finished the whole thing, there is no fear. I guess now I believe more in myself and my writing than I was at the beginning.
    I had a faithful reader and a critic from the page one, though, which was helpful.
    Luckily, all of my beta readers loved it so far, even the ones who hate fantasy genre. ;)
     
  20. J Faceless
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    J Faceless Active Member

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    I compartmentalize things which helps, like this person is reading my work as a certain phase in beta reading. I'll compare their feedback to others and look for consistencies and work from there. If they do hate it then why? Are they not your target audience, did they hate a certain charachter, what is the reason they hate it and how can i change it. Are they just a terrible human being? Did they want this romance to be more like a Michael bay movie? Were there not enough alien robots?
    It's important to find out the why, and not dwell on the fact that they hated it. Also you can forget about them, you wrote it for you, you finished something, congratulations. So what if somebody hated it, don't be scared about others opinions. But sifting through their feedback, and taking what you can use will make your work better.
    Congratulations on finishing it.
     
  21. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Your grandpa's words are very wise indeed. If we gave a f*** about everyone else's opinion of our work, we wouldn't be able to get it done.
     
  22. NewEnterprise
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    NewEnterprise Member

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    He wasn't a writer, but I'm sure it can apply to everything in life haha

    Honestly, I think the best thing about writing is that it's for me and it's a way to put on paper what I'm thinking and feeling and imagining :) Other people are completely irrelevant to this!
     
  23. DennisWillis12
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    DennisWillis12 Member

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    To get out from any fear you one has to face that fear, it is very essential for writer to face the different problems while writing. By facing problem only they will become a good writer.
     
  24. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a lot depends on what you're afraid of. If it's fear that any criticism of your writing is the same as criticism of you-as-you, that's one thing. Others have addressed that. But it you're afraid that the book is as good as you can can possibly make it and you're incapable of improving it At All, that's rot. Don't sell yourself short. If your beta readers (and do find yourself some) point out objective problems, think about them and get in there and fix them. You've got the creative imagination. You can do it!
     

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