A Four Letter Word Writers Need to Embrace


fearI am not usually a fan of using four letter words. I think we have learned from comedians like Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld that you can be funny and communicate great art without reducing your vocabulary to the vulgar, but there is one four letter word I’d like to bring into the spotlight today.


I don’t know a single author who hasn’t felt fear at one point or another in their career. Sadly, I have found many writers (note the difference in reference between writer and author) who have allowed fear to rule their lives and stunt their gifts.

So let’s shine a spotlight on this nasty four letter word and examine why it can have such power over our ability to be successful.

First, let me say that I completely understand your hesitation to move forward, and yes – so many of the authors I have worked with, including myself, have had similar concerns and fears that have held them back.

However, before you make any final decisions, i.e., deciding to abandon your story, let’s revisit your goals for publishing your book and look at the larger picture of what publishing would mean to you, both personally and professionally.

I remember back when I started as an author almost thirteen years ago. I was standing exactly where you are today. Confused, unsure, and feeling like a small fish in a big pond. I almost think I was a little crazy to make a leap of faith like I did.

It was so easy for me to compile a list of all the reasons I shouldn’t move forward.

  • My story has been told before
  • Actually finishing the book is just too big a task
  • I don’t have what it takes to be successful
  • I’m no John Grisham or Jane Austin
  • What if no one likes what I write
  • I don’t have the time to write – I have commitments
  • It is just a hobby and silly to think I could even be successful
  • My story doesn’t have enough “legs” to be a full, complete novel
  • My ideas are stupid
  • I stink at grammar and spelling

Fear-Quotes-32Okay, yep those all may be true. So say them out loud – get them out of your head and now let’s see how that fear can help propel you forward.

Start by thinking forward to the day your book is finished, you have self-published your “baby” and it is ready for the reading public.

Take a moment and imagine:

  • Standing in front of children in a classroom reading them your story as they laugh and enjoy all that you want to share
  • Opening the mail to find a notice congratulating you that you now are an Award-winning Author
  • Holding your book in hand and feel such an accomplishment that you finished something you started

No matter what, your book is a published legacy!

Now, let us look at FEAR in a different way.

Rather than seeing fear as a road block to your success, think of it as something that can catapult you to being a published author.

Bruce Kasanoff, contributor to Forbes Magazine wrote an article entitled Using Fear to Your Advantage.  He acknowledges that fear can be paralyzing but also can help to propel you forward:

But fear can also focus your attention and energies like nothing else ever has. If you have no choice but to succeed, nothing else matters. Instead of coming home early and stopping for a few beers with friends, you start to work so long and hard that you need to keep fresh clothes in your office drawers.

The trick, I’ve come to believe, has mostly to do with your mindset: do you believe, or not, that you can grow to meet this fresh threat to your survival?

So which will you do? Forget everything and run or face everything and rise?


In the article, 7 Ways to Use Fear to Your Advantage, the author, Kat Forsythe, MSW suggests:

Fear is a big bully. Stand up to it and call its bluff. Years ago, I watched terriers compete at Westminster Kennel Club. The judges faced them nose to nose to see which one would back down. Go nose to nose with fear. Say, “You can’t get me down. I can do this!” Watch it shrink as all bullies do when you call them out.

Let fear be your teacher. It turns out your trepidations, middle-of-the- night panics, and free-floating anxiety can be the best life instructors of all. My high-school Latin teacher, Miss Galloway, struck fear in me and my classmates. She was one tough cookie and taught me endless axioms for life. Did I “like” her? Did I enjoy her class? Indeed not. But I still quote her wisdom today. The same is true of our fears as we reinvent ourselves.

fear croppedBottom Line: We have all been there. The difference between a writer and an author is the ability to harness your fears and rise above what is holding you back to reach your ultimate goal.

Don’t let fear dictate your future. Use that four letter word to help you move forward to become the successful self-published author I know you can be.