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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Fear: Friend or Foe

Fear, much like this bear, can be a cuddly companion or tear you apart...

Fear, much like this bear, can be a cuddly companion or tear you apart…

As I move closer to publishing my second book, I find I have a new companion. Fear. It rarely leaves my side, and asks constant, annoying questions.

What if this book is awful? What if it’s incredible, but still doesn’t become a best seller like Invisible? What if it doesn’t even sell a single copy? What if…?

It’s the author equivalent of the dream where you’re walking down the street naked.

I could listen to my new pal, Fear. I could hide, gibbering and snivelling, under my duvet and decide not to bother with this writing business after all. It’s a scary business putting your work out there and hoping that people like it – or at the very least don’t hate it. Life would be much easier in some ways if I just got myself a nine to five job that was less terrifying but also less satisfying.

Alternatively, I can simply ignore my gnawing doubts and press on regardless.

There is another option though: I listen to the fear and utilise it as a force for good. Worried people will pick holes in your plot? Go over it and over it until you know there are no holes to pick. Write a timeline for it, check that everything marries up. Concerned about character motivation? Then study them, add to them, make sure the person you’re writing is ‘real’ and rounded. Fearful of  being factually incorrect? Then research, research, research. Concerned about not being emotionally true? Sink yourself into the character and write from the heart. Speak to people who may have experienced similar situations, even.

When you have done all that, know that you can do no more than to trust in yourself – then publish. You might succeed. You might fail. But at least you have given it everything you have.

For me, fear is a welcome companion, showing me how much I care, and driving me on to be the best I can be. Fear of failure can immobilise, or it can be a great motivational tool. It’s up to you how you use it.

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