The Paranoid’s Guide to Things That Are Out to Get You


This is the second in a three-part series on attitudes, specifically for people in publishing, but probably applicable to just about anyone. Two months ago I addressed the issue of pessimism. Today, we’ll talk about the first cousin of pessimism…fear.

If a book were to be written about fear, it would be the titled something along the lines of this blog-post. It would be a short volume with dozens of lists of those things that will make you afraid. No explanations are provided why you should be afraid of them, just lists of everything that someone has been afraid of at some point. The subtitle would be “Is that noise coming from the closet?”

Theologically speaking we are reminded by Jesus himself that we shouldn’t fear things of this earth, only those things that can affect your soul, because God knows that Satan is able to use fears to paralyze even the strongest among us.

Politics, relationships, driving a car, schools, spiders, the air we breathe and the food we eat have fear attached, whether real or imagined.  If you don’t believe me, just watch TV news for five minutes. There’s an entire segment of the entertainment industry (movies, television and books) spawning fear if you don’t have enough of it already.

Authors and aspiring authors can easily fall prey to fear.

Spending a lot of time creating something all for naught.

Bad reviews.

And dozens more. There’s probably a chapter of the above-referenced book especially for authors.  Fear can paralyze an otherwise optimistic, creative mind.

So what can we do? We don’t replace fear with some sort of mindless positive thinking that convinces us we can do anything, but through prayer, preparation, training and practice, we replace fear with confidence that we did our part and the rest is out of our control.

Sports Analogy Alert – A basketball player knows he/she can make free-throws at the end of a close game because they made that shot a hundred times a day in practice, so they get up the line and let it fly. If they make it, great. If they don’t, they did everything they could. Disappointed, but not defeated.

I’ve often wondered if creative paralysis and burnout for authors is rooted in the false premise that they are responsible for the results that come from your work.

In reality, publishing is one of the most complicated and multi-faceted endeavors on this planet. Success or failure in publishing is never easily attributed to one thing.  It is always a combination of many factors, most of them out of the control of an author.

Spiritually speaking, are you called to share your faith and convert people? No.  The former is your God-powered privilege and the latter is the function of God alone.  You do your part and leave the fruit to God.

Here are some steps to defeating fear in the life of an author:

  1. Look up…every day to the source of all your hope, creativity and inspiration.
  2. Look down…at your work and keep writing, growing and learning.
  3. Give up…the responsibility for the results that only God controls.

How do you fight fear in your writing life?

10 Responses to The Paranoid’s Guide to Things That Are Out to Get You

  1. Avatar
    Debra L. Butterfield May 6, 2014 at 5:23 am #

    Love those last 3 steps! I fight fear by quoting specific Bible verses. As I work to grow my business as an editor and author, I also remind myself often of Matthew 6:33, “seek first the kingdom of God.”

  2. Avatar
    Afton Rorvik May 6, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    Well said. I also find it helpful to name my fear out loud to a friend and ask for her support and prayer.

  3. Avatar
    Jeanne Takenaka May 6, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    Dan, what a great post. Yes, fear is the enemy of creativity. I loved the reminder that what results from our work is not our responsibility as writers. Our responsibility is to put the best book out there that we can, with the help of God, agents, editors and publishers (and many other unnamed people who make a book-dream become reality). But, it’s not my responsibility to make that book affect people. That’s God’s job.

    Thanks for the reminder to look up at God, look down and keep working and give up those burdens that belong only to God.

    Thanks for this. I needed it today!

  4. Avatar
    Cristine Eastin May 6, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    Dan, A timely post, as always. Thanks. I’m going to modify your last step to “Give IT up,” since I don’t want “Give up” in my brain. I battle fear with thinking: coming back and back to the truths I know and that you reminded us of. Get up, dust off, and get back to work.

  5. Avatar
    Jackie Layton May 7, 2014 at 4:19 am #

    Hi Dan,

    What a great post. The results are in God’s hands. It’s always good to be reminded of that.


  6. Avatar
    Kathy N. May 7, 2014 at 5:23 am #

    A great reminder for writing and for life. Thank you.

  7. Avatar
    Chris May 8, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    Fear! He sneaks up and snaps me in the back of the head before I even know it. Preparation, perspiration, persistence and prayer…keep me aware!

  8. Avatar
    J.D Maloy May 8, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    Our internet hasn’t been working. The Lord and His perfect timing knew I needed this two days later.

    This is such affirmation to some struggles I’ve been battling.

    Also, a friend felt lead to share part of her morning devotion from Jesus Calling with me.

    “Come to me for all you need…relax in the knowledge that the One who controls your life is totally trustworthy. Come to Me with confident expectation. There is nothing you need that I cannot provide.”

    Relief washed over me like a cool water on a hot day.

    God is so Good. All His promises are true.

  9. Avatar
    Sondra Kraak May 9, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    How true that fear can paralyze. Of the two cousins–pessimism and fear–I struggle much more with fear. Specifically, fear that my writing will be silly, cheesy, and an unrealistic to the human condition. And that fear paralyzes me if I let it. But thanks be to God, who gives me the strength to let go of those fears and to run with the calling He’s given me.

    As for your basketball analogy–I’ve been there on that free throw line at the end of the game. Makes me nervous just thinking about it!


  1. And the Winner is…ME! | The Steve Laube Agency - June 21, 2014

    […] exhibited in publishing. Back on March 4 of this year, I started with a post about pessimism.  On May 6, I wrote about fear and today, I want to comment on the most dangerous attitude of all for an author or publisher (or […]

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