Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What’s Holding You Back from Succeeding in Your Writing?

Vickie McDonough

As I’ve progressed from a green-as-they-come newbie writer to one with several published novellas to published short novels to trade fiction, it’s always amazed me that at every level of writing, I’ve faced fears. Fears that I was stupid to attempt to write a book. Fears that I’d never get published. Fears that now that I’ve sold a book on a partial, that I wouldn’t be able to finish it by deadline. What I hope to show you in this article is that you’re not alone if you have writing-related fears. Writing is such an insecure career. There are no guarantees that you will sell a book, and just because you sold one book that doesn’t mean you’ll sell another one. Fears are something that every writer faces at one time or another in their career.

Isaiah 41:10 says: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

As a Christian writing fiction, we don’t have to travel this road alone. Our God promises to strengthen and help us, to hold us up when we are weak or tired. God’s word tells us to not be afraid, for He is with us. And if God be for us, who can be against us?

So, what’s holding you back? Is your beginning too slow? Does your middle sag? Do you fear success? That seems an odd thing to fear, but it’s a very real concern for many writers.

Now that you’ve finished your book, are you afraid to let others read it? Afraid to send it to an agent? To a publishing house? Or have you sold a book, but are afraid you can’t make the deadline?

I’ve attended a number of writers’ conferences and heard big-name authors express that in every level of writing they had fears. I queried some and got quotes, hoping that hearing from other authors will help you see that you’re not alone in your fears.

Here’s what Robin Lee Hatcher had to say: “My #1 fear usually hits me about half way through the novel when I start muttering, "I don't have enough story. I don't have enough story. I'm lost. I don't know where I'm going. I don't have enough story." I'm a pantser (NOP: No Outline Person), so this fear feels very real at the time. However, it helps that I recognize I do this with every book, so I can remind myself that I felt this way with the last book and it turned out all right. Thus it will turn out all right this time too.”

Award winning author of more than 60 novels, http://www.robinleehatcher.com/

Margaret Daley, author of 75 books said she has a “Fear of never selling another book. Fear of coming up dry on ideas.”

Trail of Lies, Love Inspired Suspense, http://www.margaretdaley.com/

Ann Shorey, author of The Dawn of a Dream stated:

“My biggest fear, whenever I start a new book, is that I can't do it again. Not physically unable, but mentally. Can I write another story?

The Lord enables me as I peck away at the keyboard. It's like the Israelites having to step into the Jordan before the waters stopped flowing”


A few weeks ago, someone on one of the loops I’m on put out a call for writers to state their fears in relationship to their writing. I sat down and quickly penned her a note similar to this one:

When I first started writing, I feared I wasn’t any good. I was embarrassed to even tell people I was writing a book. I feared I’d never sell and that I was wasting my time and money on writing classes and attending conferences. Then I sold a novella and feared the editor would hate it and would send it back with major rewrites. I also feared I’d never sell a long book. But I did, then I was afraid I couldn’t finish it, that it moved too slow, that it was too far-fetched of a story. That readers wouldn’t like it. That it wouldn’t sell well. That I wouldn’t make my deadline. I was drowning in my fears and not trusting in God to guide me down this path that He set me on.

Let me tell you that I’m not normally a fearful woman. I raised four boys, and that’s not something for a lily-livered woman. When I was 12, I begged and pleaded until my parents caved in and bought me a horse. I loved it and rode it all over town—usually by myself. I bought a motorcycle when I was 14 (with babysitting money) and rode it all over town, alone. I’m not a sissy and have done many gutsy things. But writing terrified me. It is more of a mental battle than a physical one, and I find mental battles harder to conquer.

Let’s hear from some more authors:

“Striving to write your absolute best is a wonderful thing, but I have held on to a manuscript for years, fearful it wasn't good enough, I hadn't researched enough, etc. I am still sitting on that manuscript until this summer, where I will pull it out and rework it yet again. And then? Who knows.

B.K. Jackson, http://www.bkjackson.blogspot.com/

"Before you're published, you fear never getting a contract. Once that contract comes, you fear disappointing editors and readers. Then comes the fear that the next book won't be as good as the previous one. Or the fear that there won't be another contract. Fears can be all-consuming in this business, if you allow them to take root. Ultimately all of this is in God's hands, and if our God is for us, whom - or what - shall we fear?"

Kathleen Y’Barbo, Anna Finch and the Hired Gun, http://www.kathleenybarbo.com/

Here’s a comment from an author eagerly awaiting the release of her first book this May:

The biggest fears I've faced are sort of related—fear of rejection (both from editor and from readers) and fear of failure, that my "best" won't be good enough. I don't know that these have been overcome totally, but having a strong critique partner who "encouraged" (pushed) me to submit, plus a husband who encouraged me as I finished and submitted Marrying Miss Marshal was a big help in overcoming those fears. I'm still praying that God will remove these fears completely!

Lacy Williams, Marrying Miss Marshal, Love Inspired Historical:
It's not the not getting published that worries me, but rather that I haven't heard God right when I felt called to write. I worry that I'm not in His will and am wasting my time when He wants me doing something else. How I deal with it? I pray everyday that if this isn't His desire for my life that He will show me in a way that I will know it is Him. But I know my timing isn't His timing, so I can't say if I'm not published by such and such a date then I know I'm not supposed to. So far God hasn't closed any doors for me, but He has opened many. I just have to trust Him that He will guide me down the path I am go. And many times my crit partner has to give me a pep talk to remind me of this. http://www.lacyjwilliams.com/

Debbie Lynne Costello
My greatest fear probably stems from my perfectionist tendencies and fall into the "fear of success" category, I guess. Will I disappoint my editors so that they won't want to buy from me again—because of the writing, because of a missed deadline, because of miscommunication, poor sales . . . any number of reasons. That readers will discover I'm a fraud after reading one of my books and never want to read another. That I will burn bridges. That I won't take full advantage of the opportunities presented to me.

If I let myself, I could wallow in fear. . .but I choose to plunge forward in faith, that everything will turn out okay. I have come to believe fear never completely disappears but that doesn't mean I have to let it defeat me. I move forward in spite of the fear.
http://www.debbielynnecostello.com/ & http://www.theswordandspirit.blogspot.com/

Darlene Franklin, Bridge to Love
Don’t allow your fears to become an excuse that keeps you from succeeding in writing. The key to conquering fears is to recognize them, then give them to God, and press on knowing that He is with you, strengthening you each step of the way. Philippians 4:12b-13 says, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” http://darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com/

So, tell me, what is it that you fear most about writing? How is it keeping you from succeeding?

In the black box is a small saying that I found at one of the first writers’ conferences I attended, and it has continued to encourage me to stretch my limits.

Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of 23 books and novellas. Her books have won the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, Texas Gold, the ACFW Noble Theme contest, and she has been a multi-year finalist in ACFW’s BOTY/Carol Awards. Vickie is the author of the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series from Barbour Publishing. Including her April 1st release Finally A Bride.

Watch for her new books from Moody Press, Texas Trails: A Morgan Family series, in which she partners with Susan Page Davis and Darlene Franklin to write a 6-book series that spans 50 years of the Morgan family. The first three books release this fall. Also, next year brings the release of another new series from Guidepost Books, Whispers on the Prairie, set in 1870s Kansas. Vickie hopes readers will find her stories An Adventure into Romance. http://www.vickiemcdonough.com/

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of Finally a Bride.


Helen Gray said...

Coffee pot's set for 4 a.m.--when the ambitious people get rolling.

All these descriptions fit me. But I'm having a good time writing anyhow.


CarolM said...

Spent the evening at Panera trying to cut the one page Genesis synopses [about 700 words each] to 500 word Frasier synopses.


Now am trying to cut about 300 words from the first chapter, because that's a MUCH better ending point than the one at about 1475 words. Some of it is improving. Some of it I'm not so sure of. But...

The worst is where I realized that I'm fixing an error that made it through to the Genesis copy /cry/. Like a reworked sentence that had a word/phrase moved to the beginning but not deleted from the end. /more cry/


Okay - so what's holding me back?

Pretty much all the prepubbed stuff in the article. And once I get published [note the positive 'once' not 'if'], I'm sure the other fears will assail me as well.

Today, I was emailing Casey about this very thing.

What makes me think I can write something others will want to read?

Even if I can tell a good STORY, can I write it well?

Why me? What makes ME special? Cuz Lord knows I'm not*.


Such a timely post.

Sadly, at the moment, knowing everyone goes through it doesn't help... On another day, it will though ;).

At least everyone will like the wide assortment of pastries I brought home from Panera, right? =D

carol at carolmoncado dot com

*yes, I realize the fallacy of that statement...

Patty said...

Vickie, I have felt all those things you talked about in your article. I thought once I sold, my fears about my writing would magically go away.

But now, instead of waiting for that first sale, I'm wondering if I'll ever sale another one. But all I can do is keep on writing and put my trust in the Lord.

I know it's not the best breakfast but I've got a homemade coconut cream pie if anyone wants a slice.


Tina Pinson said...

Hey, Vickie

I let nothing hold me back, except me a lot of times.

I hate to admit I can be lazy.

Not today though. Today I can't write cause I sprained both my thumbs.

Okay, so that's not true, it's just a new excuse. Actually, I have been getting some writing done. But I can come up with some awesome excuses when a new slump arises.

Sadly, fear can become a factor for me.(sounds like a show. Hmmm) Even though I say I have worked through it, fear raises its ugly head from time to time. And I listen to it drum on about my inadequacies.

Ya know kind of like...
Oh I didn't get enough reviews. I'm a bad writer.
I got a bad review. See, they know I'm a bad writer.
Haven't heard from an editor in over a year. They don't want to sign a bad writer.

I emailed them but they haven't gotten back cause they're afraid to tell me how bad writer they think I am.

See the pattern?

Now honestly, I don't dwell there much, not too much, not much at all, not like I used to... but I can still fall prey to fear.

I know I seem pretty fearless but it's true.

Thanks for the post


Tina Pinson

Camy Tang said...

What a GREAT post, Vickie! Welcome to Seekerville!

My biggest fear as a writer is that I'll have to go back to biology work in order to survive financially. God has blessed us and we're skating by for now, but I always fear I'll have to give up my time and give it to some lab somewhere rather than writing. Just the thought makes me so sad! But it also spurs me on to be efficient with my time and hit my deadlines. :)


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Helen, yes, that's IT!!!!

Vickie, I loved this. When we had Bob Mayer on (Warrior Writer) he reaffirmed that we're all NORMAL NEUROTICS.

Well, I felt much better then. ;)

We're a weird group and your post did a great job of hitting the heart of that fear of rejection or not measuring up.

So does that mean that most writers have 'eager to please' personalities?

I wonder. Carol, you're so normal that I could just hug you.

And Patsy, oh my stars, coconut cream pie!!!! And enough to share! I'm in, totally and irrevocably. Gimme. Please.

Tina... Fear... Grab it and sucker-punch it, dear girl. Right in the old face, give it the old heave-ho. No place for it.

Loving this pie... and coffee... doing a happy dance.

Kirsten Arnold said...

Hi Vickie,

This is a great post and very timely, as I start getting everything pulled together to send out to a publisher.

My biggest fear is that I'll run out of stories. That the voices will stop. I'm having such a blessed time writing I never want it to end. So, I'm always glad when I wake up and new voices are telling me their story.


Anonymous said...

mornin' everyone..I'm on night shift - first one in a while and it's been a toughie though being busy most of the night did help the time pass by pretty quickly.

need to stop by the grocery store on the way home then fix something to eat then go to bed!


Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Vickie, Welcome to Seekerville. You always have a special place in my heart as you were one of the first people I met at my first ACFW conference. I'm so delighted you are published now and doing so well.

You sure nailed all the fears us writers face. My biggest fear goes along with Lacy. Am I doing God's will or writing because I think that's what He wants. sigh.

So silly. If He didn't want me to write, I wouldn't.

Have a fun day.

V.V. Denman said...

It's as though you had me in mind when you wrote this post. Apparently others feel the same way. I've experienced all the fears you listed. Well, not all of them. I haven't published yet, so I haven't yet experienced the fear of not being published again. :) I guess I have that to look forward to.

Lately, my main fear is that I'm not supposed to be doing this right now. Financially, my husband could use the support of a wife working part-time. However, he wants me writing. He keeps the dream alive. I'm the one doubting.

And I OFTEN doubt that my story is marketable. Then other days, I feel strongly that it needs to be told. My schizophrenia is annoying.

Thank you so much for this post. It's incredibly encouraging and I'm bookmarking it to read regularly.

Lorna Faith said...

Thanks Vickie...very timely for me! Thanks for the reminder to push past my fears and that if God is for me who can be against me? Just what I needed to hear today:)
I love your books, Vickie and would be totally excited to be entered for a chance to win 'Finally A Bride!'

lornafaith at gmail dot com

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Vickie! Congratulations on all you've accomplished!! Finally A Bride looks like great fun!

Loved your post!! Fear is a biggie for me. With all the stress, I've asked God many times if this is what He wants me to do. He keeps saying yes.

I'm two days from turning in my book. I overcome that nasty voice in my head with prayer support from family, friends, especially the Seekers. Spending time with God each morning before I sit down at the computer keeps me focused on trusting Him for what I need, refusing to allow the "What ifs" into my mind. It's comforting to remind myself that many--most--writers struggle with fear too.

Patty, thanks for the coconut cream pie! Yummy comfort food!!


Joanne Sher said...

Sooooo afraid I'm not good enough. And that if I AM good enough, I won't stay good enough.

Submitting was hard (have something under agent consideration). Waiting is hard. Afraid he'll say no. Afraid he'll say "yes."

But I'm not letting the fear cripple me (at least not often! LOL). GREAT post.

Enter me please!

Glynna Kaye said...

GOOD MORNING, VICKIE! I can SO relate! Even with a strong synopsis to back me up, about halfway through each book I panic. Feel like I've forgotten how to write a book altogether. Get very restless and unproductive. Floundering. So I have to remind myself that "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline." I read thru the half-finished manuscript, the synopsis, all my notes--and must again dig out the heart of the story that I originaly fell in love with and believed needed to be told.

karenk said...

excellent...thanks for the chance to read vickie's novel...

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

CarolM said...

Awww - Ruthie I could just hug you back.

But my students might look at me weird.

Class starts in two minutes...

KC Frantzen said...

Fess up... You were listening in to our writer's group meeting yesterday morning, right? C'monnnn, you were!

Super info, and how thoughtful of you to share what others were thinking as well. You 'bout covered it!

Though I do my best to practice "no fear, no guilt" it has a nasty way of infiltrating if I do not guard against it. The big thing is IDENTIFYING it. When I do, usually I can sucker punch it. (Thanks for the visual Ruthy!)

I'll pray about all those who read the post today... that we will trust the Lord's loving hand, to guide us where He would have us go, and for us to apply 1 John 1:9 to the sin of fear, and MOVE ON!

Thanks again Vickie! may at maythek9spy dot com

PS - Thanks Audra! Rocky Mountain Hero arrived. I'm excited to begin!

Jackie S. said...

Interesting to read of you writers' fears. I love to read, and your book sure sounds good!!!

Vickie McDonough said...

Wow, I'm amazed to see so many people hear so early, and I see a bunch of people I know. Thanks for the warm welcome!

Would you believe I was scared to write this article, but when I prayed about it, i kept feeling this was the one I was supposed to do.

I passed the ten year mark in my writing career in January this year. And the thing I've seen most from all that's happened is that God is using my writing to keep me dependent on Him. I'm a pretty efficient person. I get up each morning and go about doing whatever needs to be done. But in writing, there are so many insecurities, so many unknowns, that I have to keep turning back to God for courage and strength to get through.

And don't you think hearing how others struggle with the same issues is helpful? It proves you're one of the crowd and not an odd duck.

Lee Smith said...

I've been afraid of some of those things as well. I can't be afraid of the same things as those who have been published over and over. Maybe one day. :o) I have been guilty of not telling anyone I write because I don't want to fall short of expectations or be judged. I have this little voice that still rears up every once in a while that tells me I have no business even trying.

I use verses like the ones you shared and I have a quote on my desk from William Shakespeare. "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."

Thanks for reminding me that what I feel is not so strange, but that it's wholly unnecessary and it keeps me isolated instead of reaching out.

Missy Tippens said...

Excellent post, Vickie! Thanks so much for being with us today and sharing.

It helps to know we're not alone in our fears--which can sometimes seem irrational and crazy! Thanks for showing us other feel the same way.

Tina Pinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tina Pinson said...


I did sucker punch that stupid ol fear. That's how I broke my thumbs. LOL.

Honestly, I've been doing a lot better on the writing fear, it's the may have to move after 20+ years to a place I'm not sure of that's been whooping me now. And that I've pretty much resigned myself to as well. Have to follow the job, or not eat I guess.

Part of the reason I think for the desire to do better with writing and sales, is so I could ease what the slump in our other two businesses has done to finances.

But alas, it didn't happen and now, we will probably move.

There is work on the one hand. A blessing. But I'll be moving away from family. Trying to look at that as a blessing too. Kind of hard.

Didn't really want to be uprooted.

Could use some prayer on that.

Tina P.

CatMom said...

GREAT post, Vickie! I sure could identify with much of what you stated (sadly)--but it's nice to know I'm not alone! For years I've jokingly referred to myself as "The Queen of Worry"--which is NOT a good thing. So, I'm striving to have more TRUST--because I know the Lord is always with me, and if I keep my heart open to His leading, then I'll be okay! ~ Thanks again for sharing with us today. Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

Christina said...

Good morning, Vickie! I love, love, love the Texas Boardinghouse Brides.

I've been struggling with fear. I'm so close to writing 'The End' on my fourth manuscript. The full has been requested and you'd think I would make it my top priority, but for some reason I just can't seem to get very far.

Lacy's comments about hearing God right resonated deeply. I'm continually wondering whether or not I'm following God's will. On one hand I know I can't NOT write. On the other is filled with all those 'what ifs' you listed. My fears are even trying to keep me from attending a conference this weekend that I've already paid cash out for, but I keep thinking why waste more money on a hotel, on gas etc, etc if I'm just chasing the wind.

Thank you, Vickie! Your post is encouraging and has lifted my spirits. Even if this writing thing doesn't pan out, God is for me! That is something that I need to remember daily.


Susan Anne Mason said...

Okay, I think a new support group is an absolute necessity: "Writers Anonymous!"

I have experienced every single one of the fears mentioned. Still do. But it sure is comforting to know that 'real' authors feel exactly the same. That it's very 'normal' to feel like this.

Thank God we have fellow writers to commiserate with!

Thanks for this, Vicki!

And Carol, I did the same thing yesterday. I was re-vamping a synopsis and an entry for another contest and found *gasp* really dumb errors in my Genesis entry! We can cry together, okay? Or pray for really understanding judges!

Have a great day.

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Margaret Daley said...

We have a lot of fears. Thank goodness for the Lord. He holds us up.

Keli Gwyn said...

Great post, Vickie, one that hits me where I live. I was a fearful person before I began writing, a fact I wish weren't true. Now that I'm a writer, a whole new flood of fears has been added to my collection.

I'm currently writing my way through Second Book Syndrome while dealing with First Release Anticipatory Anxiety. Not fun. =(

I thank the Lord for being there for me and for providing my supportive hubby, awesome CPs, and treasured writing buddies.

Christina said...

Carol and Susan, for some reason I think it is a requirement to find those kind of mistakes in our manuscripts after they are sent off. I once discovered a highlighted comment with my own notes that I had forgotten to delete. I found it after I sent it off to an editor.

Mary Connealy said...

It's part of the problem for a writer that he/she has an incredibly vivid imagination.

So when fear is harassing you it is soooooooooooo easy to think of terrible possibilities. So the fear is almost part of the personality traits that make you what you are.

And author.

Mary Connealy said...

I meet Vickie at my FIRST EVER ACFW conference in Denver. She was the ONE called up front, by Barbour Publishing, to receive a contract.
And I recognized the name because she was a fellow-finalist in the long historical romance catagory of the Noble Theme Contest (now the Genesis).
I still can't quite believe the nerve I had, after she'd gotten that contract, to go up to her and say, "Vickie, I'm not even going to pretend to be rooting for you in the contest. I clearly need the win way more than you."
Then she turns out to have four sons while I have four daughters and we've been friends ever since.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Susan, I agree. A support group (of course my kind of support is a firm kick in the patoote, so you might not want me in the group...in the interest of full disclosure, LOL!) is a great thing.

And I think we've got that here, openly.

But it's okay to sometimes need a quiet support group. Should we start one? And uplift group?

Whaddya think? We could make it a side-shoot...

And Margaret, yes. Uplifted. Isn't it funny that we strive to write books to uplift people but we're in a competitive business with creative minds galore (READ: EVERYONE'S BETTER THAN ME, WHAAAAAAA! WHAAAA!) so we smack ourselves around.

Of course I just usually make fun of Mary and Tina, and my world burns brighter for it.


We could ALL try that!!!! Of course we could, and it's sensible!

They're right here!!! ;)

Ship me an e-mail at loganherne@gmail.com if you think having a side support group is a good idea instead of making fun of Mary and Tina.

But it won't be as much fun. ;)

Julie Lessman said...


WOW, Vickie, FABULOUS POST and THANK YOU for going to the trouble of polling other authors for their greatest fears because that SURE helps hearing we are not alone ... either as writers plagued by fears ... or in our careers. HE is always with us and it's HIS career as much as ours.

I'm with several others who related to LACY'S comment as follows: "It's not the not getting published that worries me, but rather that I haven't heard God right when I felt called to write. I worry that I'm not in His will and am wasting my time when He wants me doing something else."

This is my greatest fear ... but with a slight twist. Whenever I get a 1-star review or a scathing comment that my writing is "scum reading," I am chopped off at the knees, which, if you think about, is actually a pretty good thing because one has to be on their knees A LOT in this business, beseeching HIM for anointing, guidance and wisdom. So my greatest fear is that despite knowing in my heart that I am doing what He has called me to do in a style He has given the nod to, that somehow, sometime I will step over the line in a way that will not glorify Him. That is my greatest fear and what keeps me on my knees with my writing almost more than anything ... well, that and the annoying concern over sales, contest wins and 5-star reviews, that is. If I could lobotomize my brain of those two things, I'd be in Fat City. Uh ... let's make that Thin City, okay? :)



Casey said...

Oh this speaks to my heart so well! I fear not being good enough. Why am I in this? I'll surely do something wrong.

That little message in the black box is SO encouraging, thank you for sharing that (and the post!!) I might have to steal it for my blog. :)

Mary Connealy said...

btw, if I knew I could not fail, I would hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Is dying of exhaustion considered 'failing'. Because I'm pretty sure that would be my outcome.

Virginia said...

This was great! I always have to close my eyes and get my parents out of my head before I can write anything. :D

Tina Radcliffe said...

Vickie, this post is so spot on.

And welcome BACK to Seekerville.

Always a pleasure to have you.

So with four boys and your wanton tendency to do wild things what's a typical writing day like for you.

If you tell me you write while on the motorcycle I'm going to have to come and see you in person!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well Mary that was my first ACFW conference too. I remember both of you.

I remember thinking..maybe if I touched them.

Tina Pinson said...

Just wanted to give my support to a side support group.

BRA -- building up reluctant (or radical) authors

As for the discussed Denver conference. It was my first. I won third place in the Noble theme. I could be the Tina everyone wanted to emulate.


Hey why am I laughing? it could happen.

Renee Ann said...

Such an insightful and encouraging post! Thanks so much for this, Vickie. Blessings!

Whitney said...

I love these posts because we all relate to them in one way or another. Most of the things that hold me back were mentioned in the original post. My writing fears at the moment are am I wasting my time? Will I ever finish a long story? Will it be original enough? Will I ever get published?

And then there's the procrastination thing which isn't a fear, but it is something that holds me back. I think about my stories throughout the day. A scene will develop and watching it in my head is great, but when it comes to writing it, all I see is that blinking cursor. How do I start the scene? How do I get the mood across? How do I describe the expressions, tones, the inner feelings and the outer doings of the characters?

How can a person love writing so much and hate to sit down and do it?

Please enter me for a chance to win Finally a Bride!



Debra E. Marvin said...

Mary, If I thought I couldn't fail. I'd hike down and BACK UP the trail in the Grand Canyon.

I do like the term normal neurotics.
And, knowing that I share this neurosis with others--the same people who are okay with talking/thinking writing all day.

We do live in a nice, strange little world, don't we?

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Hi Vickie,

Giving over fear to God is the best advice. Thanks for sharing this. It is a great reminder that should be saved and reread whenever those nagging thoughts hit.

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

Ann Shorey said...

Great article, Vickie! It's good to know I'm not alone here on earth. I already knew I had a Friend in heaven.

Mary Connealy said...

Ruthy, if making fun of me gives you joy, then go for it.

(Yeah like I could stop her!!!)

And Tina? You wanted to touch me? I'm sort of teary eyed.

I'll come back when my emotions have settled.


PatriciaW said...

Great post, Vickie. All my fears were named somewhere in there--fear of not knowing what I'm doing, fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, fear of disappointing others. Those are probably the big ones for me.

I'm trying to remove the life obstacles that are holding me back so the only thing in my way will be me. Then I'll have to face those fears.

Vince said...

Hi Vickie

I have two views on fear:

1) fear is your friend. It has essential survival value. Animals without fear are not likely to survive long enough to reproduce.

2) fear exacts a high price. When fear prevents positive action, its cost can be crippling.

Just as there is Risk Management there should be Fear Management. Accept ‘survival’ fear and be thankful. However, when fear is the enemy, deny its existence. The more you talk about fear, the more power you will be giving fear. And the more power you give fear, the more power it will exert over your life.

Any golfer will tell you that when taking a swing, if she is thinking about hitting the drive into the woods, the ball will mostly likely go into the woods. In many cases in life, thinking can make it so.

Deny fear’s existence in your life. Don’t give fear any power or dominion over your thinking. While I suffer from acrophobia, that did not stop me from becoming a pilot or parasailing. I chose not to fear the above activities. I chose not to even consider the ‘fear factor’. I Just Did It.

I am not saying to become a Pollyanna. Think in realistic but non-fear terms. I don’t fear that my book will not be published. Right now I know it is not good enough to be published. I still have a lot to learn to produce publishable fiction. If I learn what I need to know and develop the requisite skills, then I have no doubt that I’ll produce a publishable work. It is true that I might grow to feel that the endeavor is too costly, that my time is too valuable, and that the learning curb is too steep. However, this is not something I fear; it is rather a decision I may or may not have to make.

I think this is what FDR was talking about when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Take command!
Edit fear out of your life!

(What fear is he talking about?)


P.S. At some point we have to meet! Any Tulsa book signing coming up?

vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

Vickie McDonough said...

I love someone idea of Writer's Anonymous. We'd probably be shocked to see that most of us have the same fears and concerns.

I still have them, I won't lie. I'm writing the first book now for Moody, and I'm afraid it's not going to turn out well. One thing we must realize if we write Christian fiction is that we have an enemy who is dedicated to making sure we don't succeed. And he is the source of most of our fears. So, let's band together to and not let him win.

Oh, and Mary, I still remember who beat me out the very next year in the Genesis--or was it still the Noble Theme? It's cool the we in the Christian world can be competitors and still be friends. It's like, if I don't win a contest or contract, I'll root for one of my friends to get it.

I'm sorry I haven't been around as much today as I'd hoped, but life happened. I'm headed out to a birthday party for my granddaughter, who turned 5 yesterday. Anybody want some cake?

Mary Connealy said...

Vickie, what I remember is the very next year I was the one who got that Barbour contract. And you were the one I asked all my questions.

Sort of a 'canary in a mineshaft' relationship. Vickie would have to figure out each step to publication with blood, sweat and tears. Adn I would ask her how to do it and save myself all that work.

It was a sweet deal for me.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I think when you work in an approval-needed industry with a creative brain (like Mary said) we jump to worst case scenarios often.

But there are no other neurotic nerds in the world that I'd rather hang out with than all o' youse.

Really. So I brought warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies to pass the night... And I'm working on a new book and that always lightens my step, imagining what horrors I can put these unsuspecting people through.

Before I fix 'em.

Faye Rhys said...

Writing is scary sometimes.
I loved how you talked to all those authors, so we could see that sometimes everyone is a little afraid.
Great post Vickie!
I'm going to look for one of your books!

Christine said...

I have nothing to fear but fear itself to paraphrase. I'm getting ready to submit to the Frasier, but I can't bring myself to actually send it. Why? I have no idea. My life will not get any worse once the entry hits cyberspace. For the first time ever, I have an agent who asked to see the next 50 pages. It's been finished for two months, but I started going through it line by line as soon as I got the request. Why? Fear.

Thank you for this post. Sometimes I feel as if I'm the only one with fears about my writing. I'm encouraged to know that no matter what stage of the journey we are in, we all need to release that fear to God, allowing Him to give us the peace that passes all understanding.

Mary Connealy said...

Christine, sweetie. I know just how you feel.
Do it, girl. Get that sent out, then FORGET IT. Start writing the next book.
You lose 100% of the contests you don't enter so you can only STILL lose, but you might get a good critique of your book on the paying side of the 'losers' bracket.

And what if you won??? :)

Patsy said...

Would love to read this book. I've read some of Vickie's writings and really enjoy them.


Cara Lynn James said...

I think it's kind of comforting to know we all have the same fears to deal with no matter what stage we're at in our writing career. This business isn't for sissies.

Debby Giusti said...

Glad we have Seekerville, which is such a perfect place to talk about fear! Remember yesterday when Captain Jack wrote his Tell All! YIKES!

Thanks for joining us, Vickie! Great to know we're not alone. Writing is a tough business.

Sounds like you're one busy lady.

Andrea Strong said...

This post is one more in a long line of posts, sermons, devotionals, etc. pushing me in the "write" direction.

Fear is definitely a big part of my "writing career" (as though I actually have one). It's stalling me out. I don't have enough story. I can't tell the story I have. No one will want to read it if I do write it.

Then God gives me one more beautiful nugget of plot development or some genius scene. I can't take credit for anything that I've written or even jotted down on scrap paper. The ideas just come to me unbidden. When it happens, I'm reminded who is actually writing these stories.

On my own, I will always fail. But, as my husband preached Sunday, God cannot fail. If I let him use me as his pen, the story will be exactly right, and it will achieve His goals.

But what if I can't distinguish between his goals and mine?

(see, fear is a big enemy)

I'd love to win the book.

andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

Ausjenny said...

I cant wait to read your last book Vickie I still have the second one to read (its getting almost to the top of the list with Susan Page Davis's book)
thanks for what you wrote today (sure breaks up studying reading these posts.)
would love to be entered for this book.

Lacy J. Williams said...


What a great post and a great reminder that we aren't alone in our fears, even though it might feel that way sometimes.

Thanks for the mention!

Cindy W. said...

Great post Vickie. I guess I feel a lot like Lacy Williams, as I feel called to write but then I wonder if I'm really hearing from God or is it my inner self speaking to me. I have currently stopped writing for a season and I'm voraciously devouring books and studying them. But I still hear a voice calling me....

Many blessings to you all today! I love Vickie's books and would love to be entered to win Finally a Bride.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Christina H. said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this article! I can't tell you how much better I feel having read it. I am just starting my first novel ever (one for kids) and was going great guns my first chapter and then the fear of "Now what? What if I can't do this?" has been trying to set in. But you are right...if this is God's will for me then it will happen with His help and inspiration.

Not sure if this is where I put my name in the hat for the contest for possibly winning a copy of Finally a Bride. If not, could you let me know. Thank you again!! Christina H.

B. Schwind said...

It's good to hear coming from a successful writer. The descriptions are fitting me, but not knowing what my character may do is fun. please enter me for the book, Bevschwind at hotmail dot com.

thefearlist said...

Found you via V.V. Denman's blog! Thanks so much for this encouraging post! I am a studying writer and blog about fear, so I could totally relate.