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Quiz Your Fear

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Please welcome author Laura Heffernan back to WU today! Book 3 in Laura’s America’s Next Reality Star series released just this month. Said bestselling author Kerry Lonsdale of the series:

“Smart, witty, and really freaking good, America’s Next Reality Star is a fun read that has you cheering from the first paragraph through the last page. Laura Heffernan spins an entertaining tale, expertly mixing the main character’s real life events with the reality show’s challenges. With enough drama to not only satisfy fans of reality TV shows, but readers who thrive on a good story with humor and romance, this book is a perfect read.”

Laura, who enjoys “watching total strangers get married, drag racing queens and cooking competitions; playing board games, travel, and baking” is currently working on her next series, Gamer Girl. Learn more about her on her website [2], on Facebook [3], or on Twitter [4] where, she says, she spends far too much time tweeting about reality TV and Canadian chocolate. (Do we really believe “too much” and “chocolate” should appear in the same sentence together? I didn’t think so, either.)

Enjoy!

Quiz Your Fear

Writing can be daunting at times, whether it’s a novel, a short story, a blog post, or a poem. It’s easy to make excuses to avoid writing when you’re facing down a monster revision. Heck, I avoided looking at my latest rough draft for more than a month because I knew it would be terrible. But if you let fear control your writing, you’re dooming yourself to failure. You can’t finish a work you’re afraid to work on or afraid to start. Once you’ve identified the source of your fear, it’s often easier to determine what needs to be done to move on. So, ask yourself what you’re afraid of.

1. Do you feel unqualified to tackle the story line, themes, or characters? The best way to get started is to do some research. Read similar stories, talk to people like your characters, scour the internet for articles about your topic or themes, go to the public library and get some books. If you’re legitimately unprepared, the best solution is to prepare yourself–then dive in.

2. Are you afraid the book won’t be any good? Here’s a well-known secret in the writing community: first drafts are never good. I refer to my first drafts as a “vomit draft” or “garbage draft.” They’re barely English. It’s just me getting enough words on the page to figure out the story and fix it later.Last NaNovWriMo, I drafted the second book in the Gamer Girls series. I wrote every day. I wrote from my sister’s house, missing time with family I never see. I wrote when so exhausted from morning sickness, all I wanted to do was crawl under the covers and never get up–and it’s no coincidence that this first “draft” wound up with a seven page rant on how pregnancy sucks in the middle. It wasn’t written in the main character’s voice. At one point, I think I listed all the foods I wanted to eat but couldn’t. It was terrible. But that’s okay, because I got fifty thousand words on the page, and I’m in the process of fixing them. If I can do it, you can do it.

3. Are you afraid the book won’t be well-received? There are a couple different reasons for this. If you’re writing about a marginalized group that you’re not a member of, it’s always possible that the work will receive scrutiny and possibly some pushback from members of that group. Ask yourself truly and honestly if you are the right person to write this story. A book that takes the story of a marginalized person and centers it on someone who isn’t a member of that group, such as a book about how being disabled affects a parent, may not be well-received, especially by disabled people. It’s important to view your work with a critical eye. Talk to members of that group, and really listen. Do your research. Get feedback and sensitivity reads.On the other hand, if you’re just worried that people won’t like it, well, write it anyway. No book is universally loved, and they shouldn’t be. We’re unique people with variable tastes. There’s something out there for everyone. Focus on writing what you want to read and finding your audience, without worrying about whether these unknown people will enjoy it.

4. Are you afraid of failure? Well, if you never write the book, you can’t possibly succeed. Stalling is a choice not to write, and that’s a different type of failure. There’s no shame in writing a book that doesn’t work or that you love but never gets published or that gets published but doesn’t make bestseller lists. In all those scenarios, you wrote something! Don’t let your fear stop you from even sitting down at the keyboard.

5. Are you worried about branching out into a new genre or age group? Again, there’s only one way to succeed. Do your research, then push yourself out of the nest and fly. Plenty of authors publish in multiple genres, including Nora Roberts and J.K. Rowling (who publish mysteries as J.D. Robb and Robert Gailbraith, respectively). Obviously, no one should expect their levels of success out of the gate, but we all have to start somewhere. Make sure you’re well read in whatever genre or category you want to explore, then pull up a chair and either start that outline or drive straight in.

6. Are you afraid of success? I’m afraid I don’t have a ton of experience with this emotion. Success has always been my goal, and dreams of getting six figure advances, selling a book at auction, or having a book made into a movie are what often keep me going. I have no fear of selling a billion books so my husband and I can buy a beach house and retire. Sounds lovely. I highly encourage people to help me on this book by buying my books (only, um…. somewhere over 999 million books to go!). But fear of success is like anything else. You have to face your fear. And, honestly, don’t worry about it too much. Most writers face plenty of rejection before that first success comes around. By then, you’ll be more than ready to embrace it.

Only you can write your stories in the way you would write them. Only you can give your characters unique voices, bring them to life. When writing seems like an impossible task, ask yourself honestly what you’re afraid of. Then, banish those fears to the curb and write. It’s the only way.

Have thoughts to share? The floors is yours.

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