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So What If?

Novel Incubator writer Renee Walsh is vexed by the phrase "what if." But when she adds the word "so" in front, her whole attitude changes.

By Renee Walsh

September 27, 2022

When I decided to take my first writing class at Project Write Now, what if questions crept in. What if my writing is awful? What if the other people in the class are way better than me? What if I can’t keep up with the work? I joined the class anyway. It turned out to be such a positive, rewarding experience.

When I turned my writing over to readers in the book inc Novel Incubator for the first time, those two little words again tried to stymie me. What if my readers think my story is awful? What if they can’t follow the plot or pinpoint the themes I’m trying to get at? I handed my novel over anyway. The feedback I received not only gave me meaningful insight but also a tremendous boost to keep going. My readers could follow the storyline and easily identify my important themes. They were not only rooting for my protagonist, they were rooting for me.

Now as I work through my revisions and think about the querying process, guess what words continue to show up? What if my revisions make my story worse? What if I only get rejections when I start to query? What if my story does get published … what will happen or what will people think?

After letting negative what if thoughts get in my way for way too long, I’ve decided to make a little adjustment. When the what ifs appear, I add a little “so” in front. Saying so what or so what if really helps alleviate my fears. I’ll imagine the worst-case scenario, and I find that helps me keep things in perspective. It helps me to press on through the fear and get back to work.

Renee Walsh previously wrote for a lifestyle public relations house in New York City and currently teaches reading and writing workshops to elementary-