Feature image: [Send me adrift.]

You know the symptoms. That hollow ache in the gut if you even think about writing. The voices in your mind muttering, “Why bother?” Breaking into a nasty sweat when you sit down to write. You’ve got the R-virus: Fear of Rejectionaphobia. Any writer who is serious about her or his work is headed for an encounter (or dozens of encounters – I know from experience) with the R-virus.

Our relationship with our writing often mirrors our relationship with our lives. If your childhood was marked by painful rejection – from any element of the world around you – rejection can be the biggest block to your writing. At the worst, you stop before you even pick up the pen. “There’s no point. I have nothing new to say. No-one will read my words.” If you push past those symptoms, the R-virus tells you not to bother reading or showing your work to others. And submitting work? Forget it.

Here’s the bad news: There is no magic pharmaceutical that can take down the R-virus.

Here’s the good news: You are the healer. You can begin by seducing the R-Virus. Tell it you are writing it a love letter. Tell it you’ll let it win. (Let’s face it, you’ve probably spent more time with the R-Virus then any other partner.) Sneak up to your notebook and begin: Oh my dearest most amazing darling, R. Set the timer for 5 minutes and keep going. This works best writing by hand, not on the computer.

Set your timer for another five minutes and be the R-Virus writing back. That may give some clues to why you succumb to its poison. If not, keep the exchange going. Five minutes you; five minutes the R-virus. Feel free to send me what you discover. We are all in this together.