July PANorama – Fear of Failure…and Success

Dear Readers,

It’s the last Sunday of the month, which means that it’s time for one of our chapter PAN members (PAN stands for Published Authors Network, a professional designation within RWA open to members who reach a certain level of sales) to visit the blog to share some of their wisdom and expertise.

This month, Mellanie Szereto is here to inspire us with some thoughts on fearing both failure and success.

Take it away, Mellanie!

 Fear of Failure…and Success

Mellanie~ By Mellanie Szereto

Fear of Failure…and Success goes hand in hand with writer’s block. Writers tend to be artistically minded, and lack of—or overblown—confidence often comes with the territory. Not only can self-doubt be a problem, concern over becoming successful may contribute to a stalled career. Overconfidence has its own issues and can be just as detrimental, but that’s another story for another day…

Finishing a manuscript is one of the hardest feats of being a writer. Throughout that arduous journey, many authors vacillate between loving and hating their stories/writing. Is the plot good enough? Am I showing instead of telling? Are the characters likeable? Do I suck??? Critique partners and/or beta readers provide valuable feedback, but having honest and thorough yet constructive comments is vital. The worst part? No matter how well written, not everyone will like every book. Focus on education in weak areas of writing to gain confidence. Push through the low spots and try not to edit during those times.

After the editing and polishing process, submission is the next step. Will the editor/my editor/an agent/my agent like the story? What if it’s rejected? Was the first book sale a fluke? The majority of published authors still suffer from a case of butterflies from hitting the send button. Rather than worrying about that submission, begin work on the next book. Practice is a far better way to improve writing craft than procrastinating for days, weeks, or months while waiting for a response. Nervousness is normal, but agonizing over a submission can be crippling. Writers write as an escape. Use it to your advantage!

The manuscript has sold or gotten a thumbs-up from the editor/agent/freelance editor/critique partners. Now, authors get to fixate on whether or not the book will sell to readers. Will it get good reviews? Will it make a bestsellers list? Will I make enough money to quit the day job? Do I need to market more? What kind of marketing should I be doing?

Again, rather than focusing on all those questions and possible scenarios, writers need to work on the next book—the best marketing tool available. Yes, this is a never-ending cycle. This is what makes writing a career.

It sounds difficult, doesn’t it? It is.

Fear of success can also cause an author to subconsciously derail her career before it starts.

But…what if my book sells 10,000 copies the first week? Can I write another book that’s just as good? Will I be a one-hit wonder? I have to interact with readers? I don’t know how to do that! Interviews??? I’m an introvert! I can’t go out and meet people! Public appearances? Every day is a bad hair day!

Take a few deep breaths. Put that active imagination to work on a book. Write for the joy of writing.

On to the most important questions…

Why am I writing? Am I writing to satisfy an inner need or simply to make money? Do I need to write to make myself happy?

The answers help define the fear. Someone who’s in it only for the money doesn’t usually put her heart and soul into every story. She doesn’t have as much to lose by submitting, publishing, and waiting for sales numbers. Produce, produce, produce is the object of the game for her.

However, the love of writing doesn’t have to mean suffering through the “Am I good enough?” complex. Keep things in perspective. A great book may not produce great sales and great reviews. Bestseller doesn’t necessarily equate best-written story. That’s reality, not a judgment of any person’s ability to write. Telling a heartfelt story is the top priority. Authors should please themselves first and spend less time consumed by the need for approval and acceptance. Make your own confidence.

Repeat after me. “I am a writer. I’ll learn what I need to learn to become a better writer.”

Did you notice the lack of adjectives in the first sentence? Awful, good, great… What do they matter? A writer IS a writer. Craft and industry knowledge can be learned, and even great writers never stop seeking that knowledge in this ever-changing publishing world.

I am a writer. I’ll learn what I need to learn to become a better writer.

When her fingers aren’t attached to her keyboard, Mellanie Szereto enjoys hiking, Pilates, cooking, gardening, and researching for her stories. Many times, the research partners with her other hobbies, taking her from the Hocking Hills region in Ohio to the Colorado Rockies or the Adirondacks of New York. Sometimes, the trip is no farther than her garden for ingredients and her kitchen to test recipes for her latest steamy tale. She is multi-published with Siren-Bookstrand and is self-publishing her foodie contemporary series, Love on the Menu, in addition to her nonfiction Writing Tip Wednesday handbooks based on her informational blog series. Mellanie makes her home in rural Indiana with her husband of twenty-eight years and their son. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Indiana Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Writers, and FF&P Romance Writers. Visit her website at http://www.mellanieszereto.com for information on book signings and her upcoming release, Iced Latté. Sugar and spice and everything…naughty!

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