Fear and Avoidance

June 17, 2010 at 5:43 am (Death's Daughter, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

Cat Woods recently shared a post called Strap On Your Writing Helmet and she related the story of her son who is too afraid to try riding his bike. She then linked this to her own fear of sharing her writing with the world for fear of rejection or even fear of success.

I could definitely relate to this feeling.

Other than my close friends, I don’t tend to share my writing with many people. Even my friends have to wait until I’ve tidied the draft sufficiently that I don’t want to dig a hole and hide in it while they read. Making the decision to try to get Death’s Daughter published was absolutely terrifying. Knowing that the worst thing that could happen would be rejection didn’t really help. In the end, it was up to me to decide that I wanted to share this story and if that was what I wanted then I needed to push the fear aside and try to make it happen.

Amazingly, rejection didn’t kill me. It didn’t even metaphorically kill me. A form rejection letter has limited sting because it isn’t a personalised attack. A more complete rejection with reasons why my manuscript was returned became a valuable tool for improvement and could have been considered a fairly positive step.

Then the book was picked up and I was terrified again. What if I couldn’t finish the edits and rewrites? What if I stuffed it all up?

Then it was released. What if no one likes it?

I could panic and moan and fall apart thinking of all the what if’s in the world but at the end of the day I have to be pretty happy with how things are going. I finished the novel, which was a huge achievement. I refined the novel, which probably took way too long and I really need to work on that. I found a publisher and I had my novel published.

I’m not going to lie and say that I am fearless and everything will be all breezy and easy from here on in. That is a complete lie. I’ll continue to worry and second guess myself forever. It is part of who I am. But I’m not going to stop writing and I’m not going to avoid rejection. The only way forward is to move forward.

Thanks Cat for this very inspiring post.



  1. Barb said,

    I admit I didn’t have any readers except myself for many many years. Then I started finding friends who provided feedback – my writing improved. Then I found a writers group. Now I haven’t started the query process for prose yet, but I’m not really afraid. I know my self-esteem is like a yo-yo anyway! 😉
    “I get knocked down, but I get up again” as Chumbawamba sang in Thumbsucker!
    “Up down like a yo-yo, life is just a gyddya a gogo” is a more famous 80s song I can’t spell the name of the interpreters, but I sing everytime I feel “down”…
    Happy writing!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Great sentiments. If you want something you really do need to develop that attitude of getting back up everytime you get knocked down. Doesn’t make it easy though, but who said life would be easy.

  2. Casey Lybrand said,

    I get that twinge of fear every time I hit publish on my blog, though after a few weeks on twitter, I no longer feel it with every tweet. The blog posts are less spontaneous though. I think that’s the difference.

    So maybe posting online is practice — in an emotional sense — for getting my novel out there someday. Hopefully by the time I’m ready to send my ms around, I’ll be at least a bit inured to that fear!

    “Amazingly, rejection didn’t kill me. It didn’t even metaphorically kill me.”

    And this is very good to hear!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think the length of time committed to the project definitely correlates to the amount of fear felt when sending it out into the world. A tweet – almost none. A blog post – a little more trepedition and embaressment when spotting an error two days after publishing. A manuscript – over-whelming fear.
      Best of luck with your writing.

  3. Lua said,

    For me, every step of the way if scary… Giving my writing to a friend for feedback, sending it to a magazine, pressing that ‘publish’ button for the blog, fear is always there as my loyal companion… How could it not be scary, we are giving strangers a free pass to come and see what’s inside our heads!
    Thankfully that fear is not paralyzing, most of the time it’s actually motivating, it helps me keep walking and keep trying…

  4. AlexJ said,

    I only have a couple test readers for my work and they don’t get to see it until I’m absolutely sure I’ve done all I can.
    Bravery doesn’t mean not feeling fear – it means just doing it anyway no matter how you feel.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      The strange thing is you wait until you’ve done everything you can and then as they read it you suddenly think of ten things you should have done instead.

  5. Lynn Rush said,

    Casey–I’m the same way when I hit publish on the blog, too. Crazy, huh?

    We put ourselves out there, that’s for sure, when we write. My friend asked me one time what it was like to put my writing out there. I equated it to standing naked in a room with no covers on the window.

    You bare your soul in your writing. . . so, yeah, it stings a bit when it’s critiqued, but the key is if we can get past it and keep on keepin’ on.

    Love this post. 🙂
    Have a great day.

  6. Mason Canyon said,

    You will do good. You’re on the right path. Don’t ever thing of giving up.

    Thoughts in Progress

  7. Mason Canyon said,

    Me again. I think my fingers are working against me today. I meant to say Don’t ever think of giving up on your writing.

  8. lbdiamond said,

    Congrats to your success! Yeah, the R’s hurt, but ya know what? It pushed me to be a better writer. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about getting back out there. But let me tell you, when I do, my novel is gonna be a lot better than before!!!

  9. Carol Kilgore said,

    Good for you. Writers need thick skin. My critique partners know exactly how bad my early drafts are. I’m so thankful they stick with me.

  10. catwoods said,


    I’m so glad you worked past your fear and got your book published.

    That is inspiring. It’s stories like yours that keep me going.

    hugs~ cat

    ps. Thanks for the mention.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      No problem Cat – thanks for posting such great discussions. I always leave your blog thinking.

  11. agatha82 said,

    This is such a great inspiring story to read Cassandra, thank you for posting it because I know the road ahead is tough but it’s reading stories like yours that help people like me, who have not started submitting work to agents yet.
    Alannah (aka agatha82)

  12. Kristie Cook said,

    Oh, I am so there with you. Mine comes out in July and right now it is in reviewers’ hands. Every time I think about it, my stomach plunges. I have a momentary desire to send out emergency notices to take back every single ARC and pull out of production. And yes, I’m the same with the blog publish button. We are such insanely needy people. LOL

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I don’t know if we are needy or if we are just very insecure deep down.

  13. Alex Willging said,

    Great post, Cassandra. I know from my first round of rejection letters that the experience isn’t as terrible as it seems. Nothing’s lost if you don’t make it in the first time with an agent or publisher. In particular, your own story (both your experience and your actual novel) has inspired me to keep on writing and start exploring alternate forms of getting published, although it’s the writing itself that I want to get right more than anything.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      The focus is always on the writing itself but the what happens after is something to think about.

  14. Jemi Fraser said,

    Great post – fear can be so debilitation. I try to only look at the very next thing – that way I don’t freeze up 🙂

  15. Hart said,

    I eased in. I started with fan fiction in a super supportive environment and then made a conscious shift with several of THOSE people to start a writer’s group that gave more critical feedback. We’d nurtured so much, that we knew how to balance the good with the criticism. I think it makes me VERY lucky.

    Sounds though, like you had an amazing process to have succeeded with your first book like you did (probably somewhere in that overly long editing process, I suspect–maybe your inner critic is very strong)

    I wish you a ton of success with your book!

  16. Cassandra Jade said,

    Thanks everyone for joining in this discussion. It is great hearing how everyone else is dealing with this and their writing.

  17. Corra McFeydon said,

    Rejection is proof you’re a working writer. 😉

    – Corra

    the victorian heroine

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