The questions probably should be are writers more paranoid than others, because according to a new study at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London, paranoid thoughts are common.
They used a virtual reality Underground ride during which participants heard laughter and were asked whether they thought it might be about them, or were looked at by avatars and asked whether they felt the figures were friendly, neutral, or menacing.
Forty percent of the 200 participants had at least one paranoid thought. I guarantee you that one hundred percent of the people who ride the real London Underground during rush hour have at least one paranoid thought. Although, as somebody noted, “Just because you’re paranoid does’t mean they’re not after you.”
Of course it doesn’t help that the government feeds such paranoia, especially with what I call the “theatre of security” that plays out at the airport. Or is it paranoid of me to think that way? Naah.
Writers get paranoid mostly when they have sent their work to somebody--e.g., a producer, agent, or editor--and don’t get a response. Then it’s easy to start assuming the recipient hates it and is just putting off rejecting it. Sometimes that IS what’s happening but most of the time the manuscript is just buried in a pile of papers on their desk.
The other time writers get paranoid is when they think someone has stolen their material. It does happen, as I know from being a victim on one major occasion, but it’s relatively rare. If you don’t show your material, nobody can buy it. Keep good records of who saw it and when and you should be fine.
Overall, I don’t think we’re any more paranoid than the next person...in other words, a little.
(Of course, you should worry about missing out on all the good guidance you'll find in my book, "Your Writing Coach." It's published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller. Keep your eye on that shady-looking person in the bookshop--they may be plotting to grab the last copy.)