“What if…?” The question that haunts us all

“What if…?”

At several stages during our lives, we’ve all asked ourselves one question. This question is often followed by an unhealthy amount of stress, panic, and worry. This question can also send us off into a daydream in which we become billionaires and spend our days watching films in our home theatre as our own personal chef prepares us dinner every night, which we then eat in our deluxe jacuzzi…

Most of the time, this question leads to the former.

When pursuing your dreams, it’s incredibly easy to find yourself asking this question. More often than not, the part after the “what if” tends to be negative.

And why is that? Because we’re all human beings that are seemingly incapable of thinking anything positive about ourselves! How fun!

Self doubt is something that comes natural to us creatives. As I sit and type my book, I’m thinking to myself, “Yeah, this can be something really great!”, but then that little voice comes creeping its way into my brain and essentially takes a dump on all my hopes and dreams. And once it’s done, I’m left thinking, “But what if everyone else hates it? Maybe I should just give up.”

Ever thought anything along the lines of that? Huh? Well let me take this opportunity to tell you not to do that. It’s an awful idea. Don’t even think about it!

Overcoming the fear of your work not being good enough

If you put something you’ve created out into the world, it’s impossible that every single person who sees it is going to dislike it. We’re so used to looking at our work over and over again, every single day, that we start to worry that it isn’t good enough. Well, we’re all wrong there! Because something you’ve been looking at for months and find boring or not good enough could be the greatest thing a fresh set of eyes has ever seen.

The only way I can truly conquer my fear of people disliking my writing or it not being good enough is to just go ahead and put my work out there. I do this by sharing excerpts on my social media and posting updates on how the process is going. Here’s a screenshot of one of my contributions to the hashtag #1linewed on Twitter, where writers are given a theme and have to share a line (or a paragraph in my case!) from their WIP that relates to the theme. The theme for the week this was posted was fire.

At this point in time, I’ve only shared the majority of my book with one person, who is one of my best friends and a writer herself! After she read the first few chapters, it was a lot easier for me to talk about my book, not only to her but also other people.

There’s no secret recipe to getting rid of the “what if” questions in your head. I’m currently writing the first draft for my book and I’d already been asking myself “what if no one likes it?”

It took some time, but I realised that I’m overthinking things way too much, far too early. I’m only on the first draft. The first draft is there for getting the story down, not for perfecting the ideas and getting it ready for readers. Now is not the time for me to be worrying about other people not liking it, because other people (apart from my friend!) aren’t even going to see it until I know it’s ready.

Talk about your work, share sneak peeks, but try to discard the “what if” questions. You are in control of when you want an audience to see something you’ve created, so why let your confidence get knocked down so early on?

If you feel up to it, why not post a sneak peek of something you’ve been working on today? Post a Tweet or a photo to your Instagram story. Face your fear and tell yourself and the world that you’re not going to let the “what if” questions bring you down. It’s hard sharing something you’ve created with others, even if you’ve done it a hundred times before. But it gets easier and easier each time, and in the end it’ll be so worth it.

You and your work will always be good enough. Keep going!

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Belinda is nineteen and lives in England. She loves reading and creative writing and is currently in the midst of writing her first fantasy novel. While she currently studies Performing Arts, it is her ambition to study Creative Writing at university and go on to publish her book in the years to come. Although she is only at the beginnings of her writing journey, she is excited to hopefully grow her platform and meet more people in the writing community.

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