There’s something that no one ever tells aspiring authors. Before we put our seats in chairs and fingers to keyboards (or pen to paper for those who like to roll old-school), the prospect of writing a book is exciting and filled with endless possibilities.
And then we begin to shape words into stories and pages into books. That’s when the fear sets in.
I’d be remiss to suggest that all authors face the same struggles. But through the years, I’ve discovered that many of us battle the same doubts. It doesn’t matter if we’re writing thrillers or historical romances. It doesn’t matter if we write a dozen books a year or barely eke out enough words for one a decade.
Maybe it doesn’t matter if we’re writing at all. Writers don’t have a monopoly on fear. Anyone who has ever worked on a big project, painted a picture, or performed in a show has probably faced the same. As I’ve talked to hundreds of writers and creatives across the country, and I almost always encounter the same two common.
Fear of failure. I’m guessing that anyone who has ever done something creative has hoped it would be well-received. The fear is in being rejected by an important audience and told that you’re no longer welcome to add your creativity to the world. Maybe that’s a publisher, who turned down your proposal or a big-time reviewer who panned your performance in the community theater. At its heart, this fear breeds the idea that you are not enough.
Fear of success. Maybe you’re wondering who fears success. I do. Because while I’m focused on the book I’ve just released, I’m already looking ahead to the next one. And I wonder, if readers like this book, maybe they’ll think the next one isn’t quite up to snuff. Maybe I’m a one-hit wonder. Maybe I’ve managed to fool publishers and agents and readers into thinking that I can write, but the next book is going to reveal me for the fraud that I am. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard multi-published authors admit that they feel like a fraud and are certain that someone is going to reveal them for it.)
I’m in the throes of releasing my 13th book. In fact, my first released eight years ago this month. And I’ve written literally millions of words since then. But I’m still plagued by these fears. And I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel good. You know why? Because we’re not supposed to live in fear.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7 NKJV).
Fear feels awful because we were never intended to have it. We’re to be strong and courageous and loving. We don’t have to worry when the doubts creep in.
You know why?
No failure is final. I borrowed that phrase from bestselling author Max Lucado, who is one of my favorite authors and who also knows a thing or two about rejection and failure. Just ask the 14 publishers who turned down his first book. That’s right. It took 15 tries to find a publisher willing to take a chance on an unknown missionary in Brazil. And then he became the Michael Jordan of inspirational writing. Speaking of Jordan, he didn’t make the high school varsity basketball team his first try. But these guys have at least one thing in common. They kept trying.
One failure doesn’t define us. One closed door isn’t the end of opportunity. God is faithful to complete the work He’s doing in your life. Don’t give up just because of a failure. Trust that God has given you this creative passion for a reason.
You know what else?
Success does not define you. Your identity is not in accolades or awards. It’s in the roles that you live out each day. Mother. Son. Friend. Caregiver. Servant. Encourager. Writer. Child of the King.
If I never win an award or make a bestseller list, I’ll still be a writer because more days than not I sit in front of my computer and let my fingers tell stories of the far off places I love to visit and the grand love stories that sweep across my mind. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be an actor, act. Your creativity isn’t contingent on who or how many recognize it.
If you’re afraid, you’re not alone. But you don’t have to let fear hold you back. When you hear those what ifs asking if you’re enough, remind them who you are and try again.
About the Author
Liz Johnson fell in love with Prince Edward Island the first time she set foot on it. When she’s not plotting her next trip to the island, she works as director of marketing for a Christian radio network. She is the author of several novels including The Red Door Inn and Where Two Hearts Meet, a New York Times bestselling novella, and a handful of short stories. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona.
Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.
Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.
After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.