Izzy Bayliss talks about overcoming the fear of being a writer.

Writing is one of the scariest jobs you could do. No really, it is. Okay so it’s not being-a-firefighter-running-into-a-burning-building scary or negotiating-with-terrorists scary but is it still a pretty brave thing to do. When you put words on the page you are exposing your inner-most thoughts and ramblings for the whole world to read. Writers pour their heart out, they put bits of themselves both good and bad into their characters and very few jobs require that same level of vulnerability.

It’s usually your friends and family who will read your book first and when you know that the people you love are reading your work, it’s terrifying, When I first gave The Girl I Was Before to a good friend to read, I knew she wouldn’t openly criticize it to my face but that was nearly worse because the self-critical voice inside my head went into overdrive. When she finished it and said lovely things about it, I couldn’t take it at face value. Deep down that voice was telling me that she was only saying it because she had to. I was scrutinising her facial expressions to make sure she wasn’t lying to me. I would have asked her to take a lie-detector test only she probably wouldn’t want to be friends with me any more. We writers are constantly over-analyzing and beating ourselves up about things. Even when people praise our work, we’re not happy. It’s a no-win situation really.

Then you have to deal with people reading the sexy bits. What will your Dad think? Or your work colleagues? Or will your child’s teacher think you took inspiration from your own sex life? I still can’t write a sex scene without worrying about the various people who will get to read it and inevitably I find myself toning it down. That scene where the characters were jumping from the wardrobes – scrap that – lets put them in the bed, with the duvet pulled up over them and the lights turned off.

Then when you publish the book, you have to deal with the reviews from the people you don’t know. If you thought waiting for the verdict was bad while your family and friends read it, this part is even more nerve-wracking. You lie awake at night worrying about it. When you check your reviews on Amazon or Goodreads you read them with fingers over your eyes. Then the inevitable bad review comes along and you want to dive into the wardrobe and hide there for the rest of eternity. It stings. You curse yourself for ever having the fancy notion to think you could be a writer. Who do you think you are writing a book, that annoying voice in your head mocks.

And what’s worse is that you find yourself agreeing with some of the more constructive parts of what the reviewer is saying. If you get a bad review remember that even books you love have had bad reviews. That’s the great thing about books; they’re totally subjective. Allow yourself a few hours to wallow (wine helps), then you have to pick yourself up and move on. As the saying goes you need to be thin skinned to be a writer but thick skinned to put your work out there for the world to read.

If you were to let the self-doubt or the feelings of failure after a bad review take over, you’d never write a word let alone a book. Just like the character of Lily in The Girl I Was Before when Frankie convinces her to set up Baked with Love after she gets fired from her job, sometimes you have to be brave and just go for it. Take solace in the fact that you’re not alone, most writers feel the same way about their work, we’re sensitive little souls after all. So if you’re letting fears stop you from doing something you love, whether it be writing a book or something else entirely, tell the negative voices in your head to do one and as the Nike slogan says, just do it.

the-girl-i-was-before-1When Lily McDermott walks in to find Marc, her husband of just three months in bed with actress Nadia, life as she knows it is over. Lily thinks things can’t get any worse when she sees photos of her husband and his new lover splashed across the glossy magazine pages, but when she loses her job too, she is at her lowest ebb and turns to baking to soothe her soul.

Wounded and broken she has to try and pick herself up again with the help of her best friend Frankie and with her encouragement, Lily decides to turn her hobby into a business and sets up Baked With Love. However whatever Lily does, it seems disaster soon ensues and when handsome stranger Sam comes to her rescue, Lily isn’t quite ready to turn her back on her marriage. 

Can Lily risk opening her heart again or is she destined to allow Marc to shadow her life forever? 


Izzy Bayliss lives in Ireland with her husband, children and their dog. A romantic at heart, she loves nothing more than cosying up in front of the fire with a good book. Her motto is that reality is over-rated and she is happiest staring into space and day-dreaming.

izzybayliss.com

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