Renee Conoulty: Feel the Fear and Write Anyway!


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Feel the Fear and Write Anyway!

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Margaret, who is my guest today, chatting about author fears.

Margaret K Johnson is an award-winning author and experienced adult education tutor. She writes women’s fiction, fiction for people learning to speak English and non-fiction. Her books have been published by Cambridge University Press, Cengage Learning, Crooked Cat Publishing, Omnific Publishing, and Earthy Works Publishing. Her novella Kilimanjaro recently won an Extensive Reading Foundation Gold Award.

In 2014, Margaret founded WriteUP Courses – creative writing courses with a confidence-building element. Since then, she has since helped many students to embark on their writing dreams, or to use writing for therapeutic purposes.

Margaret lives in Norwich, East Anglia, with partner and her bouncy son and dog, and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia.

Connect with Margaret via

Guest Post - Author Fears

Writing can be a scary business.

When I first began to write, I didn’t know I needed to be scared. I was twenty-one years old, fresh out of Art College, and convinced that my idea of writing a best-selling romance novel to finance my career as an artist was a good one. (Hindsight and experience are wonderful things)! As I wrote I was completely driven; absorbed with my story and able to ignore the sceptics around me.

Then came rejection – caringly worded, but rejection nevertheless. One short paragraph for all those months of effort. I was hooked on writing by then – couldn’t have given it up if I’d tried. But now, post-rejection, it was harder to ignore those doubters around me – the cynical responses when I told people I was writing romantic fiction. The jokes about pink dresses, bouffant hairdos and little yapping dogs.

I pressed on, but underlying all my efforts, there was a big, enduring fear. ‘This is my dream. What if it doesn’t work out?’

I know now, that I was far from being alone. A few years ago, I carried out some research with established writers about their fears when they were just starting out. They were much the same as mine – anything from I feel silly saying I’m a writer, to I can’t stand the thought of adverse criticism of my writing, to How do I know when my novel is finished?

Two years ago, I established WriteUP Creative Writing courses, using my experience of writing and being published to combine the development of writing skills with building my students’ self-confidence, and I’ve encountered these same fears over and over again in my classes.

Fears about writing are very powerful things. They can stop you from ever picking up a pen or switching on the laptop. After all, if you don’t produce anything, don’t finish anything, or never show your work to anyone, then it can’t be judged, and you can’t fail.

Except to yourself, of course, and that’s possibly the biggest failure of all.

Because to have had the idea of writing in the first place, you must have wanted to do it. You must have wanted to experience the thrill of expressing your ideas and feelings, and of finding that others are moved or entertained by what you have produced. Of seeing your novel on a shelf in a book store.

Fortunately, it worked out for me. Those early efforts of mine gradually began to get published – enough to keep me writing and to make me crave more. Over the years, I began to write exactly as I wanted to write, instead of trying to please other people. I was also commissioned to write educational fiction, and my books have been published by Women’s Weekly, Cambridge University Press, Omnific Publishing and Crooked Cat Publishing.

But along with publication came other fears. Would I be able to get the next book published? What would people think of my books when they came out? Would people buy them?

Authors can be a pretty fearful bunch! But perhaps that’s natural when it’s so hard to make a living from writing, and when the words you do put down are often drawn from a deep part of you – a part that non-writers might not choose to express.

I’ve pulled together the fears I see my students dealing with on a day-to-day basis with my own experience of triumphing over fear, to create an e-course called Feel The Fear and Write Anyway, which will be available soon. In it, I’ve tried to provide the kind of reassurance, practical advice and insight I could really have done with when I was first starting to write. And above all, I want to help would-be writers to connect with each other and to give each other encouragement and support. A group of my current students have been trialling the course for me, and I’m really excited about their feedback.

In the meantime, I decided to give people the chance to start working on their writerly self-confidence straight away, so I produced a free video series – The 10-Day Fear-Busting Challenge for Authors, which people can sign up to now. Every day for ten days, you receive a daily email with a link to a short video which looks at a different author fear. You can sign up for the challenge here:

Wishing all you writers out there the very best of luck with your writing! And remember, Feel The Fear and Write Anyway!

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