Writers, Pay Attention to Your Reluctance

Published over 1 year ago • 1 min read

Hi Bookfoxers,

There's an easy way to peek inside your writing soul.

Here is it:

Study your reluctance.

When you're reluctant to write, or edit, or submit, there's a reason for that.

And you shouldn't always grit your teeth and lower your shoulder and push through it.

You should try to understand that reluctance.

For instance, I work with plenty of authors who are reluctant to submit their writing. The big question is why.

Now, it might not be ready yet. That's a great reason to wait. But it could also be:

  • They're fearful of rejection.
  • They don't want people to read it because it's too embarrassing or personal.

If you can't commit to editing a piece, study your reluctance. If you're letting it rest before you return to it, that's a fantastic reason to wait.

But watch out if your reluctance comes from these things:

  • It's easier to move to the next shiny thing (new story!!!) rather than doing the heavy lifting of revising a book.
  • You don't think you should have to edit it ("I'm a genius and people should read my rough draft!")

And of course, writing itself. Why are we so reluctant to write?

My goodness, I could probably write a whole email about this, but let's highlight some possibilities:

  • You fear that you're not good enough.
  • You're worried that readers won't like it.
  • You suspect that it's not a good enough idea.

Ultimately, being a writer just takes a lot of nerve.

The type of nerve to walk on a tightrope or jump a motorcycle over a chasm.

But as Cynthia Ozick wrote, "You have to talk yourself into bravery with every sentence, sometimes every syllable."

If you identify your reluctance, if you name it, if you stare it straight in the face, then you have a better chance of summoning the courage to overcome it.

May your writing be speedy and your bookshelves always full,

John Matthew Fox

Let your writing be inspired: The Linchpin Writer


John Matthew Fox helps authors write better fiction. He is the founder of Bookfox, where he creates online courses for writers, provides editing and offers publishing assistance. He is the author of "The Linchpin Writer: Crafting Your Novel's Key Moments" and “I Will Shout Your Name,” a collection of short stories.

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