Shy Writers: The Fiction Author’s Fears

musemThis post is part of a blog museum, archiving old writing from a previous blog.


In a previous article, I asked if authors had any concerns about the move to digital publishing. Quinis asked a very good question that I wanted to examine in a full-blown post series:

How did you get over the hurdle of showing your work to anyone and everyone?

forever-aloneI don’t know if most people around Sygnus realize how terribly shy I really am. Maybe it’s because I’m chatty in comments and posts online. But the truth is, I don’t talk about my creations, writing or art with people who aren’t a part of the website community. Most people IRL have no idea I’m a writer, artist, webcomic/webmaster/geeky gamer girl (well, if they stumble upon this blog, I guess they know now). I’m terrified to show someone face to face my stuff . But posting things online? Not so scared. I can’t tell you why.

Writers (especially shy ones) have it hard. On one hand, we create things with the express idea to share our creations with others. On the other hand, we pour our hearts and souls into our characters, plots and creations, so much that we fear displaying our work should we have to experience the disappointment of rejection. This rejection can be in the form of other people’s criticism (even helpful criticism can be scary sometimes) or the form of having no one pay attention at all!

So let’s take a look at what we’re afraid of and how to face these fears!

The Root of All Fears

So how do you get over the hurdle of showing your work to a vast audience online? The first thing I’d do is ask yourself WHY are you afraid of sharing your work with other people? What do you feel you have to lose?

Completely normal fears about sharing writing include:

  • My writing sucks (and no one will like it).
  • My writing is unoriginal (and no one will like it).
  • No one will read it even if I post it (Forever Alone).
  • People will think my ideas are stupid (and no one will like them).
  • People will think I’M stupid because of what I write (and no one will like me).
  • OMG… I just re-read what I wrote a month ago and now I think it all stinks (and I don’t like it)!

Let me tell you a secret. I think most writers, even writers you think are good at the craft, have been hit (hard!) over the head with one or more of these self doubts. I have. Every single one of those thoughts has afflicted me at some time or another. You’re not alone! 

Our writing reflects a deep, sometimes secret, part of ourselves. It takes a lot of courage to open the doors and let other people in. We don’t know if others will understand our stories, our characters, and ultimately us. That’s a scary thing to face!

Another scary thing to face is criticism, even when it’s helpful feedback. In my next post, I’ll talk a little about how to deal with criticism. Then, I’ll work on a post that gives some tips in breaking the ice and working towards overcoming the fears that keeps us from sharing our writing with others.

Q & A

  • Have you ever felt any of the above fears as a writer?
  • Do you have additional fears or doubts that you can add to the list?
  • What did you do to overcome these feelings?


  1. Because I’m so young, I’m always afraid that what I write isn’t good enough for people to want to read and enjoy. It’s a bit childish, but I always worry that people will write me off because I really am just a kid. I worry that I don’t have enough experience, that I’m not good enough, and that I’ll never be able to please people with my writing. Pretty basic fears, I know.

    But in addition to that, I hesitate about posting because I always feel that I have too much exposition and character development scenes and not enough action. In short, that my writing is too dry and too heavy for the average person to enjoy. This doesn’t mean the quality is bad … Just that I’m long winded and people won’t “get it”, so to speak.

    I get the struggle, I really do. Believe it or not, most people don’t know what I like either, unless I say something. It takes people by storm that I play video games and want to write for a living (plus, Librarian).

    As for what I do to overcome them… I let someone, just one person, read them and assuage me of my fears. It works for me everything. Generally, it’s someone I trust.

    1. While age helps you to hone and develop your writing skills, life experience and view of the world, I won’t discount a young writer as someone who has nothing important to say. There are plenty of powerful stories and songs that were written by younger writers. Here’s a list of some that I found when searching the net:

      -Mary Shelley finished Frankenstein when she was 20.
      -S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was 16.
      -Sun also Rises, by Ernest Miller Hemingway, was published when he was 27
      -Shakespeare likely wrote Henry VI between the ages of 25 and 27.
      -Dickens finished The Pickwick Papers at age 25.
      -Jane Austen age 19: Sense and Sensibility
      -Hellen Keller age 22: The Story of My Life
      -F. Scott Fitzgerald age 23: This Side of Paradise
      -Anne Frank was aged between 14 and 16 when she wrote her diary.
      -Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book at 28.
      -Jack London wrote The Call of the Wild at 27.
      -Edgar Allen Poe wrote The Fall of the House of Usher and a few other short stores by 27.


      Take heart and keep writing. It’s like any other art — the more you do it the better you will get!

      1. Thanks, Wren. I didn’t know a lot of that. But I have hope now, that I can be a young writer and still tell a good story. I’ll just have to save that link to remind myself when I start doubting.

  2. It is a struggle really. I haven’t posted some of my stories yet because of that fear. Quite frankly, it’s been almost drilled out of me…so I do a quick post and I run. It’ll take me hours to come back and see what kind of feed back I get.
    I’ve learned it’s best to come out and just show the work. It’s scary…it’ll have me feeling butterflies the ENTIRE time but how else am I going to improve?
    The creative writing course did me wonders really…
    We were forced to stand up and go to the podium to read our work. Not so much by the professor but by each other. Every body learned that we were ALL freaked out and it became easier. 😀

    Just don’t ask me to read from a stage! DX Hahahahaha! I’ll freeze up! XD

    1. Wow… that had to be tough! I doubt I could read my stuff out loud in front of a group like that — though I understand why the professor would make you do it. I start shaking when I have to speak in front of people — it would be a mess for me!

      1. Let’s just say that I was elated when she said we didn’t give the Poet cafe/bar place enough time to prep for a class of 15 to go read their Poems (that counted as our finals) in front of a live audience. I would have BEGGED to be under the influence of alcohol for that one! DX

        One thing is to read in front of a class that will get their own turn, another is to go read to an audience that has no such obligation! I would have been a nervous wreck for certain.

        I do adore Dr. K, she was very patient with us and she was very supportive. (Even when she’d make you go up there) The fact that I took her class again to finish up my criteria for English 102 speaks volumes. Of course when that class was reluctant, she’s push me up there (since I already knew what she wanted >_<) to break the ice.

        *hugs* I know what it's like, stage fright sucks! D: It's a good thing you have no fears over the internet, or else how were we all going to share your good stories? 😀

  3. Interesting… I haven’t actually been too afraid of letting people see my work, for the most part. I’m not sure I could tell you why… perhaps because the stuff I write down is the stuff I want other people to know, since otherwise I would be content to keep it in my own head? I’m not sure. That being said, I don’t think I’m that great of an author, especially since most of the writing I’ve posted is really first-draft stuff that could use a lot of revision and editing.

  4. I think most of my problem is the last of interest.I don’t really have any problems posting my writing up online. But my webcomic gets roughly eight hits a day, and I don’t seem to get any hits on my story-sites (though to be fair for those ones, I don’t exactly update them all that often.) For my RL friends, even though we’re all obsessive readers, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to read something of mine, and I really kind of doubt they’re being completely honest with me when they tell me what they think of it. I’m terrified of my classmates or my peers reading anything of mine, (mostly because I have to deal with them every day) but the one time I actually convince myself to send something to my dad, he deletes it without even opening it because it didn’t have a subject name. My brother’s an English major in collage, so I thought I might send a short story I was gong to submit to my school’s newspaper (no problems doing that – no one reads the paper.) But this was back in November, and he still hasn’t gotten back to me on it…

    I know my writing’s absolutely awful (though at the same time, I know it use to be so much worse…) There was a girl in my school who had two books published before she even graduated. I don’t know her name or what she wrote, but I get the feeling that I really aught to be inspired by that. There’s a girl the same age as me who went through the same education as me, and she’s published! But instead I kinda feel like I could never possibly be good enough to get published, and she was probably taking all collage-credit courses anyway….

    A girl this year told me that I’ll never get published unless I write what’s already on the market, which to me equals just another cookie-cutter vampire/romance novel, which is something i most certainly do not want to write. But I know she’s kind of right – publishers want to publish things that will sell, and that happens to be what’s being sold right now.

    There’s also how every time I ask my dad about a little scenario that I might end up writing.. say “What would you do if a madman pressed a knife into your hands and asked you to kill him?” I will generally attempt to explain the logic of the scenario, but it always ends up in “That makes no sense. I think you’ve been reading too many animes.” and then it dissolves into him making fun my mangas and me insisting that anime is animated. (Really, he makes fun of everything. From people’s accents to the introduction to Okami to the word ‘ocarina” to how long hair apparently makes a person a girl… and then he wonders why I don’t let him read my writing…)

    I’m just… Going to end this little ramble-rant-thing here…. and pretend it has something to do with this… >>;;;

    1. Between you and me, Mara, I know a few young women who have had things published, have read those things, and have discovered that they are FAR worse than your own writing. You needn’t worry so much.

      They just wrote things that are too mainstream. They go to my school, and I have talked to them both, and they honestly wrote with a formula just to get money because they were low on cash at the time.

      Sad, but true.

      So publishers don’t necessarily have good tastes all the time. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

  5. Wow…I did not expect one comment to become a full blown article.
    I do have most of those fears.
    I like Yllamse’s idea of doing a quick post and running (I did that for my comment on the previous article which is why I’m replying now). Of course, it takes me a while before I’m comfortable posting anything on a certain site. I lurk, a lot. And, I’m not to certain that it would work if I decided to publish slowly online or something like that.
    Anyway, I have a few ideas now. Maybe in a few months I’ll be able to report one some progress?

  6. I tend to get all of those fears at the same time. *blushes*

    And plus, in the past I’ve worked on something and then gotten distracted and then stopped, only to come back months later. At this point I’m actually afraid of starting because I’m worried I’ll get distracted and stop. It’s a silly worry, but meh.

    And I also worry that I’m just plain doing it wrong, because what I’m trying to do with my current project is make something that focuses on human nature and the psyche while still being a good adventure story. And I don’t want to imitate or cater, but I still want to keep people interested…

    It’s frustrating. /._.

    Well, that’s my blurb of the month.

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