Friday, February 1, 2013

Overcoming Submission Anxiety (One R&R at a Time)

Or, Using Fanfiction as a Creative Writing Workshop Part 2 (Part 1 link here)
Well, you finished it. You’ve read it over and over and had your high school English teacher proof it for errors. Now it’s time to submit.

And you freeze. What if they don’t like it? What if it comes back with a nasty note? What if it doesn’t come back at all—lost forever in slushpile limbo?

One of the first hurdles a developing writer has to face is submission anxiety. You are about to send your baby out into the harsh cold world. A rejection of your work is likely to feel very much like a personal rejection as well.

I’m not going to downplay that because it hurts to be rejected. I have collected my rejection letters and hold them proudly as badges announcing “By God, I tried!” which is more than lots of aspiring authors can say as their MS lingers on their hard drive until it turns to cyberdust. But it still hurts to hear my work isn’t wanted.

Fanfiction can be a wonderful place to begin getting over that anxiety and start letting go of your work in a friendlier, safer, more accepting environment. Most Fanfiction reviewers are kind and encouraging. Sure, you’ll get constructive criticism if you ask for it. But you’ll mainly hear reinforcement of what they liked.

I’m going to get more in-depth later on with how to read your reviews, but to begin, it’s good to just start hearing from readers to help you gain confidence in your writing and in submitting it.

The best way to get reviews is to leave reviews. If you haven’t started reviewing other pieces and narrowing down the fandom you want to start writing in, this is the week to do it. Build relationships by reviewing other authors who are currently working. Or if you find a piece you love that’s been out a few years, review it as well. I get reviews on fics that are five years old and still love it and still respond to them.

Oh, yes, as an author you can respond to the reviewer and thank them or answer questions. But your first lesson in getting reviews is this---just like in the traditional publishing world, DO NOT RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW IN ANY WAY. Just let it go. If somebody trolls you really badly and leaves all kinds of nastiness, you can remove the review or report them. But the best thing to do is LEAVE IT.

So get out there, start reviewing and start thinking about your fandom and even start working on your piece.


  1. That's sage advice, Arley - why take that kind of bait from a negative source? Cheers, and best wishes in all your publishing endeavors!

  2. I agree with you. It is necessary to find ways on how to overcome anxiety. It is not a healthy feeling and will only prevent us from enjoying the good life.