A Writer’s Phobias

This world can be a scary place. It is filled with “ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night,” as the old Scottish prayer puts it.

It can be especially scary for writers, believe it or not. Even though we don’t get out much. Maybe because we don’t get out much.

Sure, there’s a phobia for just about everything; but some are more acute or common among people who write. The following is just a short list (some of which are officially recognized by VSP—very smart people—and some of which I made up):

Agentophobia: the fear of literary agents. Also exists in more specific forms, the most common of which is Stevephobia.

Amazophobia: the fear of bad reviews, especially those that appear online. From mean people. Who apparently have issues.

Anthropophobia: the fear of people—especially the fear of meeting new people, instead of just staying at home with the dog, the cat, and the computer.

Bibliophobia: the fear of books. Some people really do have a fear of books, bookshelves, and bookstores. But this phobia can also be experienced by writers who confine themselves to writing articles, devotions, short stories, etc. But a whole book? Whoa, Nelly. How many words did you say it should be?

Catagelophobia or katagelophobia: the fear of being ridiculed. This fear may hinder a writer from writing, inviting critique, submitting, etc.

Deuterophobia: the fear that your second book won’t be anywhere near as good as your first. Also the fear of long and difficult books of the Bible.

Enterophobia: the fear of hitting “send” on an email submission.

Glossophobia: the fear of public speaking, such as speaking up in a classroom or critique group, at a speaking engagement, in a radio or television interview, etc. May also refer to a fear of 8×10 glossy photos.

Graphophobia: the fear of writing itself, or of handwriting. Especially when it causes flashbacks to being made to write on the chalkboard, in second or third grade, in cursive, while the teacher looked on. With a ruler in her hand. Or a bazooka.

Interophobia: the fear of the internet. Or technology in general. Isn’t it just better to write with a rock and a chisel? Sure, it’s slower, but it just feels right.

Peniaphobia: the fear of poverty. A very real phobia afflicting writers everywhere.

Phobiaphobia, the fear of fear itself. Also known as FDRaphobia.

Plagiarophobia: the fear of someone stealing my idea, which is the first of its kind in the history of the world—or at least in the history of human language.

Publiophobia: the fear of being published, which is closely related to catagelophobia.

Redinkophobia: the fear of editors, editing, and marked-up manuscripts.

SASEphobia (pronounced “sassyphobia”): the fear of rejection, named for the self-addressed, stamped envelopes that presaged the dreaded pink slips of rejection, back in the olden days.

Scriptophobia: the fear of writing in public. Seriously, it’s a real thing. Writers are a little like vampires; we shrink from the light of day.

Tropophobia: the fear of making changes. May also be related to egotism. Or pride. Or an unbiblical view of inspiration.

Do any of those hit home with you? Or are you afraid to say so (see what I did there)? What would you add to the list?


40 Responses to A Writer’s Phobias

  1. Avatar
    Janine Rosche October 31, 2018 at 4:36 am #

    Pitchophobia-the fear of sitting across a table from an agent or editor for either the longest or shortest 15 minutes of your life. This is often accompanied by ohnoshesslidingtheonesheetbacktomephobia.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler October 31, 2018 at 5:15 am #

      Agents and editors also suffer from pitchophobia. Sometimes accompanied by ohnoshesaidgodgaveherthiswordforwordaphobia.

  2. Avatar
    DiAnn Mills October 31, 2018 at 5:11 am #

    Only you! Love the post!

  3. Avatar
    Monica Butler October 31, 2018 at 6:04 am #

    This is great!

    Now I might add Commentophobia–the fear of leaving an awkward comment, even when the desire to interact with a compelling post is strong. Too much? Too little? Maybe just read and scroll and leave comments unshared?

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler October 31, 2018 at 6:28 am #

      I’m glad you overcame that fear. At least momentarily.

    • Avatar
      claire o'sullivan October 31, 2018 at 2:05 pm #

      or a misspelled word, and hitting ‘send’ in the comments i.e. addressing Bob accidentally as Bub.

  4. Avatar
    Shirlee Abbott October 31, 2018 at 6:09 am #

    Autocorophobia–fear that my electronics will transform my words into something stupid. Closely related to Regretophobia, the fear I carry when it happens and I wonder how many people will think I am that stupid.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler October 31, 2018 at 6:29 am #

      Did you mean to write “think that I am that stopped?” Ha! Made you look.

    • Avatar
      claire o'sullivan October 31, 2018 at 2:06 pm #

      Ah! I read through my MS (again) and found a website seriously! inserted into MS. HOW?

  5. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D October 31, 2018 at 6:34 am #

    Bob, that Trop…one rings a bell…. your sense of humor is such a blessing. Thanks for making my day.

  6. Avatar
    Richard L. Mabry October 31, 2018 at 6:36 am #

    Dear Dr. Hostetler–I find that I’m afflicted with virtually all those phobias. Is there any hope? Thanks so much for any help you can give.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler October 31, 2018 at 6:37 am #

      I’m not qualified to treat, only to diagnose.

  7. Avatar
    Linda Riggs Mayfield October 31, 2018 at 6:38 am #

    Missingstevelaubedotcomophobia: the fear of getting distracted or otherwise occupied and missing even a single day of this site’s posts, with their unfailing wit and wisdom. No known successful long-term treatment–remedied only one day at a time, but you get phobia relief on weekends.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler October 31, 2018 at 6:41 am #

      Check with your doctor. That may not be a phobia so much as a pathology.

      • Avatar
        claire o'sullivan October 31, 2018 at 2:10 pm #

        It turns out that is my ‘importantandorspamfileophobia.’ Thankfully I only need to spend 10 more hours scouring my mail to make sure I have not missed any SLA posts. I do not know how ‘important mail’ is any different than my regular email. That goes along with the technophobiaandrathersendviasaseeventhoughIhaveSteve-ophobia

  8. Avatar
    Sharon Cowen October 31, 2018 at 6:39 am #

    Starting with Janine, not much chronos-phobia in this group. Were you really up and responding to Bob’s blog at 4:36 a.m.?

    Has my memory failed me–is “chronos” really the Latin word for time? Hmmm. There must be another phobia about words themselves and what they really mean? And of course there is the spelling phobia which spell-check really hasn’t eliminated with the red-underlining I’m seeing above.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler October 31, 2018 at 6:43 am #

      Sharon, some of us rise in the middle of the night to pray…and comment on blogs. Others of us live in the Eastern time zone.

  9. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 31, 2018 at 6:57 am #

    I fear the creatures of the night,
    but none so much as Bill.
    His eyes ablaze with furious light
    he’ll come, and come to kill.
    He used God-given birthright
    with such rare and consummate skill,
    and seeing a hack with talent slight
    making verse just grist for the mill
    of ill-considered humour and trite
    comment…please, my tremours, be still!
    I think perhaps I’ll hide out in Serbia
    to escape his wrath; oh, this Bardophobia!

    • Avatar
      Judith Robl October 31, 2018 at 7:42 am #

      Hee-hee-hee! I love your sonnets, Andrew. They make my day. I hope you are having one of the better ones today.

    • Avatar
      claire o'sullivan October 31, 2018 at 2:12 pm #

      love it, Andrew!

  10. Avatar
    Sami A. Abrams October 31, 2018 at 7:05 am #

    LOL!! This is awesome!! Mine is not so much the second book won’t be as good, but that I can’t do it again. Sheesh!! I’ll let you come up with the name for that phobia. Haha!

  11. Avatar
    Loretta Eidson October 31, 2018 at 7:30 am #

    Haha! I love this post with all its phobia’s! I needed a good laugh to start my day.

  12. Avatar
    Roberta Sarver October 31, 2018 at 7:38 am #

    How about cloisterphobia? The fear that our introverted nature will result in being so satisfied to hole up in our home office with a computer that we start looking like people who just spent ten years in a cave.

  13. Avatar
    Carol Ashby October 31, 2018 at 9:02 am #

    Here I thought enterophobia was going to be the irrational fear of enterobacter, a family of rod-shaped bacteria. They ferment lactose with gas production (a delightful trait!). Recent research has shown that E. cloacae B29 may contribute to obesity in its human hosts through a mechanism involving inflammation in response to a toxin they produce.

    Pretty obvious why someone might fear them in a perfectly rational manner, so I guess that wouldn’t qualify as a phobia.

  14. Avatar
    S. Kim Henson October 31, 2018 at 9:05 am #

    This post and the comments made my morning. It’s good to laugh before I open my manuscript.

  15. Avatar
    Ann Coker October 31, 2018 at 9:46 am #

    Creative! Or I’ll use your words from the email received only one workday after my submission: “marvelous work.”

  16. Avatar
    Ann Coker October 31, 2018 at 9:47 am #

    Creative! Or I’ll use the words from your email sent only one workday after my submission: “marvelous work.”

  17. Avatar
    Ann Coker October 31, 2018 at 9:50 am #

    There must be a phobia for repeat comment after my computer told me that my send was “interrupted.” Ugh!

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler October 31, 2018 at 10:54 am #

      Yes, Ann, it’s called Pete&Repeataphobia.

  18. Avatar
    Mary Felkins October 31, 2018 at 10:20 am #

    Yes. All of the above.
    Add…fear of saying the same thing everyone else has already said. Redundancyphobia.
    Or fear of making up a funny phobia that, well, isn’t funny.
    Whatever. Y’all have fun. I’ve got writing to do 🙂 🙂

  19. Avatar
    Tisha Martin October 31, 2018 at 11:05 am #

    These are great. There’s also:

    perfectaphobia — fear of your manuscript or proposal not being good enough

    nextaphobia — fear that the next book won’t outshine the previous book

    coffephobia — for those writers who actually dislike coffee and prefer tea

  20. Avatar
    Rebekah Love Dorris October 31, 2018 at 11:38 am #

    Suspiciophobia: The fear that every nice stranger you meet has a hidden motive that would that would do a suspense writer proud.

    Treatment: no more reading books named after chess pieces.

  21. Avatar
    Sherry Stacy October 31, 2018 at 12:43 pm #

    Bob, I reposted this to the writing group Your Novel Blueprint, as your funny insight often encourages the over four hundred students of Jerry B. Jenkins, our mentor. He responded with this: Jerry B Jenkins

    That blog IS funny, but what does Deuteronomy have to do with a second book?

    Any response to Jerry, who always says you are very funny?

  22. Avatar
    claire o'sullivan October 31, 2018 at 2:21 pm #

    Great post. Love the comments and new phobias I can add to the list.

    *Love going out for coffee to write as long as there is enough static-speak in the background and I don’t have to actually interact with anyone.

    Love Rebekah’s ‘suspiciousphobia.’ This leads directly to inappropriatecrimewriteroratoraphbia wherein family/friends/cop friends begin taking notes, looking at others with their suspiciousophobia. Which is also related to agentophobia or anthropophobia.

  23. Avatar
    Jennifer Mugrage October 31, 2018 at 7:14 pm #

    Not long ago I had a nightmare where an agent sent a particularly cutting rejection to a query. Then I looked more closely and realized it was a query I had written a year ago, when I didn’t know how to query properly and it was horribly written and I would have rejected it too.

    True story.

  24. Avatar
    Judy Wallace November 27, 2018 at 1:09 pm #

    I love the post, it made me smile but I relate to it as well. I’m not afraid to admit I probably have agentphobia, along with a publishphobia, which is a fear of being published and counterproductive to being a writer. But there’s probably an app for that. LOL

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