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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You Have Nothing To Fear But...Writing

©atatonically drawn by artist B.C. Matthews
Lately, despite my gung-ho, glass is half full of awesome-sauce, "I am a writer and so can you" attitude, I haven't really been writing much. I have a new novel project that's been knocking at the front door of my mind, demanding access to all parts of my brain, but one thing has been keeping me from immersing myself in it to the fullest.

Fear.

I hadn't really realized why I've been so reluctant to start a novel project that I'm excited about. It wasn't until I stopped into Forward Motion, and another member graciously pointed out why it was I was having a hard time with this.

I pretty much regurgitated all of my problems—the hesitation, the obsessive need to get the right characters before I start, the perfect outline before I start, the best plot before I start. "I'm having a hard time with this," I stated. "I need to do more prep work so I don't have problems when I write. My last project had a suspenseful plot, but all of my critiques told me that the characters were flat and one-dimensional. I feel like I can't get it right! I need to get this one perfect before I start."

Breathe, a very patient member told me. You're stifling the story before you even get started. Why?

It felt like my brain slammed into a brick wall of realization. Because I'm afraid I'll mess it up again. Because I'm afraid I'll make mistakes. I'm afraid I'll spend time on something that doesn't work…I'm terrified. I'm terrified of failing.

Fear.

I've always jumped head first into any new shiny idea I've popped up with. I've always known that whatever I did that I could fix problems later. First drafts are messy as hell, and re-writes and edits are where things get real. Whatever it is you can fix it. It became my mantra: You can fix it. But when I finally did fix it later, it still isn't working. My most complete project still is: fail. I told myself to write it off as a learning experience and move on.

Fear. I didn't realize how immobilized by fear I'd become. 

I know that you can't fix something that doesn't exist. You have to have a first draft before anything happens.

Since I'm more of a pantser anyway, I'm going to simply leap into the new project the barest, hang-by-a-thread outline. My mantra needs to come back: You can fix it. Have fun. Revel in the story. Remember what makes you want to write this.  


Anyone else have this moment of hesitation?  

1 Comments:

At July 28, 2012 at 9:44 PM , OpenID danthonybrown.me said...

My current anthology WIP is almost done, I just need a 1k more words on two of the stories. At the height of NaNo, I can eat 1k words for breakfast, but I can't seem to get over the fear that these stories aren't as good as the other finished stories in the same collection. Perfectionism is a hard habit to ditch. You're not alone...

 

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