Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Motivation: FEAR!


Yes, I realize my first post is late, and we’re already well into February. Forgive me, please? I’ve been running around like a squirrel on steroids, but that’s no excuse—believe me, I know.

Anyhoo, to kick things off I’ve decided to introduce Motivation Monday. Every Monday I’ll share with you the shiny pearls of wisdom I’ve gathered over the years, or simply encourage you on your writing journey. We’re in this together, aren’t we?

Today’s topic is about the dream-strangling parasite known as FEAR. Why am I writing about it? Well, I’ve suffered from this ailment, and I recently just confronted it and dealt with it. Hopefully, I can help you do the same—or at least point you in the right direction.

Look … what I’ve come to realize, after years of frustration and self-doubt, is that you’ll never get anywhere in life until you step out of your own way and get out of your comfort zone. What do I mean by that? Don’t worry, I'll tell you.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

If you want to be a writer and you exhibit any of the following symptoms, then you, my friend, suffer from FEAR. And fear (a condition that’s best faced head-on) is the number one enemy to creativity and success. Fear doesn’t just mean shaking in your boots at the thought of publishing your ‘baby.’ Fear could be a pesky version of perfectionism. Or a need to rewrite a great sentence a trillion times.



Guess what? Keep holding your work close to your chest and no one will EVER read it. I’ve been writing for publication since 2008, but I haven’t released a single book. Protecting my manuscripts from the world, because they’re not perfect and need another tweak, has hurt me in the process. I’ve become jaded and fearful, and I have nothing to show for years of hard work.

What we all need to understand is that the books we write are not for us. They don't belong to us. They belong to our readers. If you're anything like me, you’re cheating someone of a beautiful experience by refusing to let go.



Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean you should rush to publish a first or second draft that's barely received an edit or a critical assessment. I'm talking about 'that book' that your critique partners have read, that your editor has sent back with a flashing, neon-green tick, but you still seek out more opinions. You know, deep down inside, that it’s ready, but ‘something’ tells you to wait. To start something else that you’ll also tuck away somewhere safe where it’ll never see the light of day.

Listen to me, I’ve become a PRO at this and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Instead of falling back on the self-hatred I used to feel whenever I realized another year had passed without a release, I’ve come to accept that it was a flaw and a lesson I needed to learn.

Fear will always make you think you're not ready … that you may have missed something important. But guess what? Unless you have super powers, chances are your book will never be perfect. Once you publish that baby, you might wish you'd changed something. Even the great J.K. Rowling wishes she hadn’t killed off someone, or paired two people together. Is Harry Potter not one of the best series out there? Do you think we would’ve ever sighed in wonder and counted down the seconds until the next book, or movie, if she hadn’t sent the manuscript to her publisher? NO.

The people who are meant to read your book are waiting somewhere out there. They've been waiting and searching fruitlessly for your exact book—all because you've been finding every excuse not to take that leap.


Have you ever read a book that may have had a typo here and there, but you absolutely adored it and read it over and over and over again? I’m in no way encouraging sloppy editing, mind you, but I’m telling you to STOP putting unnecessary pressure on your poor, little shoulders. If you’ve done all you can to make it shine—get that book out there!


True story: I’ve been on forums where people have listed manuscripts that have been critiqued by thirteen other people, yet ‘need’ five or more extra look-overs. Trust me, you don’t want all those opinions messing with your head.

A site I follow suggests a writer pair up with one or two critique partners (and two trusted beta readers, if they want). Your editor should be the only person you add to this list. If Anna tells you your hero’s unlikable, Kim says he’s a god, Joan says he’s annoying, Colleen says he’s a sweetheart, and then Brittany tells you he’s the best you’ve ever written, whilst Monica claims she likes him but doesn’t think he’s suited to the heroine … what are you going to do? Don’t back yourself into a corner where you’ll start doubting everything all over again.

Connect with a small group of people who share the same tastes as you. Getting a prim-and-proper M/F reader to critique/beta-read an erotic M/M story is asking for trouble.


I want to write, but…. But nothing! Procrastination is procrastination is procrastination is fear.
Ooh, let me dust the door frames real quick. I don’t want Mr. Freckles, my cat, to get sick. That just won’t do.
Ooh, let me visit Shirley. Didn’t she say she bought a new cactus?
Ooh, let me see what’s happening on Facebook. I’ll only be two minutes, I promise.
Um, no, park your patootie and finish that book. Publish the dang thang. If you feel it ‘isn’t right yet,’ or you can’t afford a decent editor, sending it to a publisher who guarantees a thorough edit might be best. And you know they'll drop you faster than a spider if you play around and miss deadlines.


You never stop learning, that much is true. However, if you'd rather read thousands of how-to articles, instead of actually writing and applying the knowledge you've gained so far, then you, my friend, are in the clutches of fear.

You're so afraid that you don’t know enough. You actually believe that your writing isn’t good enough. That's why you keep seeking validation from outside sources. The only thing is the overflowing knowledge-banks aren’t going to write or publish your book for you. Deep down you know you have enough for now, but you keep seeking, and seeking, and seeking (you get the drift). Give yourself room to grow and improve as you write and publish more books.

The danger of overloading your brain with too much advice is that you’ll end up confused. One writer might tell you to avoid this or that, another might tell you if you don’t do it this way you’re doomed. Soon, you’ll find yourself paralyzed, staring at a blank screen with your imagination stifled. All the voices in your head will scream at you that you’re doing it wrong.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at


You're so obsessed with what readers are saying about your favorite authors that you’re afraid to give anyone a piece of yourself in case they tear you to pieces. You know the problem with this?
It dries up your creativity.

Let's say you love reading and writing about soft heroines who are super-feminine, but you come across a review that blasts soft women as weak or boring…. Guess what? You're going to change an important character trait to please someone else, and you won't be true to yourself. You'll lose your voice, because what makes you special dies. You can never please everyone, my dear.

Don’t let fear steal your identity. The world needs you, not a recycled version of another author or naysayer. If you love growling Alphas, give them to us. If you love bad-ass, blade-wielding heroines, give them to us. If you love clean, no-sex mysteries, give them to us. Give us you, and those of us who deserve more of your light will follow you.

Yes, you might get scathing one-star reviews, but that's how the world works. Haven't you ever eaten something and wanted to throw up, but found your friend or sibling loving it and licking their fingers? Diversity is essential to life. If we all had to eat peanut-butter sandwiches for the rest of our lives, how much do you want to bet we'd end up sick and malnourished? Bestselling writers get scathing reviews, too. Instead of having a panic attack, think of it as a rite of passage and shake the haters off like Taylor Swift.

Don’t be afraid to be heard. And don’t punish your future loyal readers who’re searching through forums and blogs for books like yours.


Growing is great, learning new techniques is awesome, but not at the expense of your voice. We already have Stephenie Meyers. We want [insert your name here].

Trends are great (when they last), but don’t follow them because you’re afraid to venture into new, undiscovered territory. Be the one who creates the trends, even if they’re weird. Someone out there will love you for it. And even if they don’t, you’ll be proud of yourself, you’ll be free from guilt, and you’ll have loads of fun in the process.


The sad fact is someone will dislike your book and cast it aside without finishing it. You can’t please everyone. I love Harry Potter, but my cousin hates the series and claims unrealistic stories are a waste of brain cells.

Millions adored Fifty Shades of Grey. Millions cast literary stones at the novel in disdain. Whoever is meant to love your work will love it. Whoever is meant to hate it will hate it. You can’t avoid this. So, instead of cowering in fear, claim the story you bled over and hold your head high.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself. We can never get rid of fear altogether, but we can manage it. Acknowledge that you’re afraid, and do what you have to do anyway. Take that leap! You’ll never know until you try. I hope this helps someone, even in the smallest way.

Lotsa love,