Feel the Fear! Rose McClelland guests today.

Today we welcome the lovely Rose McClelland, sharing tactics for dealing with a writer’s fears.

“I just don’t have the time to write” …. and other excuses masking FEAR
“I don’t have the time to write”
“I should’ve started writing in my twenties, there’s no point now”
“It would take me too long to write a novel so I should just concentrate on my day job instead”
“People like me don’t become published authors – that dream only happens to other people”

These were all the excuses I gave myself. The notion “I want to write” hammered away at me for years but I successfully batted off the desire with these nifty excuses. Clever, huh?
It wasn’t until a friend shoved a copy of “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron into my hands and told me “we are going to study this 12 week course” that things began to change.

What’s the point?
I discovered, through a series of tasks and tools, that my excuses were just that – excuses – and the real problem was fear.
“What’s the point?” is a clever mask for fear or resentment.
• What would my father think of me?
• What if he read the sexy scenes and was appalled?
• What would the blokes at work think?
• Would I have to write under a pen name?
• I’m not very outgoing or confident – how would I promote my book via Facebook or twitter or god forbid, newspapers and the wider media circle?
• What if I got bad reviews?

The first thing I learned was that those fears show a pretty active imagination. Projecting that far into the future and visualising such strong negative images shows that, in-fact, there’s a good healthy writer’s mind ticking away in there. Now how do I turn those negative visualisations into positive ones?

Play time
I learned that as a blocked artist, I was not lazy – I was blocked. In fact, I was using a lot of energy worrying, feeling guilty, feeling jealous and doubting myself. I learned that it would be easier to just do the writing than waste the time worrying that I wasn’t doing the writing. It was easier to get on with it.
I took small steps. And I made those steps enjoyable. I found a coffee shop I liked – one which had an upstairs section which was quiet and tucked away from the hustle bustle. It overlooked a water fountain and had comfy sofas. I settled myself down with an Americano and a sparkling water and I began to play with ideas. A scene here, a scene there. One scene at a time. Pretending I was in the audience watching the characters. Having fun. Enjoying myself.
It wasn’t a chore, or a hurdle, or a massive mountain to climb, it was fun. On a Saturday and a Sunday morning, it was my writing fun time.

List the fears and resentments
I was honest with myself. I listed my fears and resentments about doing this project. I asked myself “why is there no point?” I put it down in black and white. This is not an easy task to do. No-one wants to admit those negative thoughts that are swilling around in your sub-conscious. But on the plus side, once those negative thoughts are down on paper, you can look at them for what they really are – just thoughts. They are not facts.

Jealousy is a map
One thing I have learned is that jealousy is a map. If you are looking at someone who has just got published and you find a stirring of jealousy within your gut and a tightening in your head; that is a sign. A sign that you want that thing. And there is nothing stopping you from going after it. Who do you know who has had a book published? How can you learn from what they have done? Read their blog; find out how they went about it. Once I started to admit I needed help, the help landed in my lap.

Now you know what you want, start to visualise having it. Write in the present tense as if you already have it. Find images surrounding your dream and pin them on a board. I wrote “published author” in bubbly colourful writing.

Did you have any negative affirmations about your dream? Perhaps you secretly saw creative people as disorganised or chaotic. Start to realise that it’s possible that you as a creative soul can be organised, helpful, kind and giving.

Set yourself goals – for this year, this month, this week.
“By this time next year I would like to __________”
“By this time next month I would like to _________”
“By this time next week I would like to _________”
“What small action could I take today?_____________________”
Now do that thing.

By the way, my dad did read my book – he skimmed over the first chapter, lowered his glasses, looked at my mum and said, “I don’t really think this would be my kind of book, love”. And that was that, nothing more was said. The blokes at work have never commented on my book, except for one who asked, “What chapter can I skip to for the sex scenes?” And my agent encouraged me to write under my real name, not a pen name. “Shout it from the roof-tops!” she said. And that’s exactly what I’ve done.




Huge thanks to Rose for these words of wisdom – now, over to the rest of you; how do you combat your own writing fears?

14 thoughts on “Feel the Fear! Rose McClelland guests today.

  1. Aha, I knew something good was up when you Twittered about being busy at Romaniacs HQ today. What a treat! Great post, Rose, thanks so much for sharing your journey and insights. Truly inspirational, and I simply wish I had a coffee shop like yours near me… haw haw, having to make do with my office and a view of the (ever weedy) drive-way. Loved your story, thanks again!

  2. When I first met Rosie online, we realised despite our different backgrounds, we had a lot in common, especially the family reaction fear thing to our writing. I come from a very religious background and I was positively apoplectic with concern about the parentals reading my novel. Rather than stress over it, I told my mum the reality of the contents and said please don’t read it! You will be so shocked. She burst out laughing and said she wouldn’t, phew!

    I’ve been there with the blocks. My block occurred in my 20s. Despite childhood praise for my stories, I still needed affirmation I could write and I’d be good enough to succeed as an adult. My block was the notion of trying and failing, it was so bad I didn’t try at all. I never saw myself succeeding at all for various reasons. My visualisations were unrelentingly negative, but nor could I let that desire go.

    My way of dealing with it, in hindsight, was that I tricked myself into writing as a side effect of self expression. I’m on over-thinker, I do everything best in my life when i don’t think too much!! I got that affirmation I needed via MySpace as a blogger, I am a total music/geek/fan – when I get into anything I am utterly full on in my geekery. The only way to let on about these amazing bands I was seeing was to write about them – and without realising it, I was building a following of readers who loved my blogs, praised the words, and lo and behold, that block dissolved, I got my affirmation and I began writing stories again with the confidence and passion I’d had as a kid when they were ones chosen as best in class. So the moral is… sneak up on your fear.

    I actually own a copy of The Artist’s Way because of Rosie! One day I will tackle it properly, I think there is a lot of good in the ideas Cameron espouses. Great post my friend. x

  3. Rose, this post has really struck a chord with me. So inspiring and reassuring. I’ve always embraced the visualisation process and completely agree with the suggestions you’ve made here about writing down your fears and goals. I’ve almost let self-doubt crush me at times but take great heart from reading your story and about how you never gave up and stuck at it. I MUST grab myself a copy of The Artists Way. It sounds great. Thanks so much for sharing all this advice with us. I’m thrilled at your success and wish you lorryloads more of it going forward 🙂 x x

  4. Yay! Go Rosie! So glad you worked through it all and went on to write and publish – but most importantly, to follow your dream. If you’re a writer, then there’s no stopping it – your need to create will find a way!
    I love Yasmin’s comment about sneaking up on your fear, too.
    I’ll be bookmarking this post for my own tick-list if I’m ever feeling scared again (which is quite likely lol.)
    Thank you for writing 🙂

  5. Great post Rosie. It’s always easier to find reasons NOT to write than to sit down and do it. Very often I feel dreadfully daunted but find once I force myself I’m off and away and then frustrated I don’t have longer to sit down. Lots of useful tactics here.

  6. This is a lovely, inspiring post. Thanks Rose! I would love to write one day and have been through a lot of these thoughts in my head.

  7. Have been absent of late on the comments page because my stoopid computer keeps putting your posts in the junk folder. So, it was cool finding this one today and to see that it featured the lovely Rose herself. Its always great to read about other writers and their dilemmas and then compare them to my own. When I get writers’ block I pick up the phone and ring one of my RNA mates (there are lots nearby) and we meet up for a coffee and thrash things out. As for sex – my brother in law picked up the trial blurb I’d written for the back of my book, which mentioned ‘Hunky Mel Gibson look-alikes’ and he reacted like it was soft porn. LOL. Wait till he reads the book. Ha Ha. My only fear is that I’ve left it too late to start what I’ve always wanted to do, be a writer. So I – and three other NWS friends – have decided to publish on Amazon and Create Space this autumn because we are conscious of the sands of time trickling through the hour glass. Good luck to Rose, her books are on my Kindle and she deserves every ounce of success that comes her way.

    Lizzie Lamb

  8. The minute we put ourselves ‘out there’, we make ourselves accessible and vulnerable.
    It is scary to present something to the world that has the potential to make people think differently about or of you.
    I’ve written one complete contemporary romance which my mum read, despite me worrying about what she would think of the adult themes within. She was my toughest critic, but always constructive, so when she said she enjoyed it, I was elated. The love scenes, explicit language (used where necessary) and the edgy plot did not offend her. She was a well read person and said it was par for the course in modern romances.
    It was the most wonderful reaction – very cool, very ‘I’ve seen much worse than this’, (in terms of the degree of explicitness) and I remember nodding my head and thinking, ‘Okay.’
    From this point, my creativity was free. I had the confidence to write exactly what was in my head and know my lovely mum was not only cool with it, but proud enough to tell her friends her daughter was a writer.
    I guess I was seeking her permission and reasurance to write freely and once I had that, I was able to give myself permission.
    I was very lucky.
    Thanks for a great post, Rose.
    Laura xx

  9. Thanks Rose 🙂
    Your comment on jealousy was so refreshing!
    It should make me want to aim higher and be better – not paralyse me!

  10. Thanks so much for being our guest blogger, Rose – it’s good to know that the fear isn’t something we have to suffer in silence! Loved your advice,

    Celia x

  11. I found a group of writers who set themselves goals and then encourage each other (#writemotivation). It works along the same lines of what you are saying here but with support. Great post!

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