Sunday, March 06, 2011

Writing and Fear

At the writing retreat I attended in January, one of the speakers said that all not-writing is due to fear. We might make excuses about time or energy or the muse not visiting or writer's block or whatever. But really? If we're not writing it's because we're afraid.

I didn't write today. Or yesterday. Or the day before. This, after vowing to write every day for a minimum of 30 minutes since December 1st. When my son asked me if I had written yesterday, I told him no and gave him a great excuse about wanting to read instead and waiting to get feedback on a different manuscript and blah blah blah. He cut me off and said, "Mom, you have to blog about your failure." Love that kid.

So here I go.

I didn't write for the last three days because I'm afraid.

I'm afraid this first draft sucks. (The fact that it's supposed to suck because it's a first draft is not comforting to me. Sucking sucks.)

I'm afraid I will never be able to translate the idea in my head into the masterpiece I imagine it to be. (This fear makes sense. My idea is perfect in my head. Of course I won't be able to create a perfect book. But who cares? Maybe I can create a book that is good enough.)

I'm afraid someone else will write my book before me, and they'll do a better job than I could ever do. (Stupid fear... nobody can write my specific book except for me. That's why it's mine.)

I'm afraid that even if I write the best book, my agent won't be able to sell it.

I'm afraid that even if my agent sells it, my publisher won't promote it.

I'm afraid that even if my publisher promotes it, reviewers will pan it.

I'm afraid that even if reviewers love it, people won't buy it.

I'm afraid that even if people buy it and love it and and ask for more, I won't ever be able to deliver because it is such an impossible task, and each book is challenging in its own way, and writing one book well does not mean you know how to write another book. At. All.

So there you have it. I'm sitting with my fear. But I'm not so worried. It won't last. Sometimes I have to just succumb to the yucky, scary feelings for a little while. Acknowledging them helps them pass. Because hidden right underneath all these fears are dreams and confidence and faith. Writer's fuel. They won't stay hidden for long.


Lisa Jenn Bigelow said...

Yup. Whenever I start procrastinating on writing (e.g., having a sudden desire to do the dishes of all things) it's almost always accompanied by this tension in my shoulders, a pit in my stomach. And I *know* actually writing will do a lot to dispel the fear, at least temporarily, but it's still so hard to make myself do it sometime.

I mean, heck. Here I am, reading blogs and thinking about how a hot shower would be really nice... and *then* I'll get to writing... promise...

Brenda Ferber said...

A hot shower sounds lovely! The other day I told my husband I was going to clean out my closet and dresser drawers. He thought it was a great idea. Why didn't he realize it was actually a cry for help??

Lisa Jenn Bigelow said...

LOL... No worse sign in a writer's life than a clean house!

Jess Morrison said...

Hi Brenda - I just wanted to thank you for writing this post :) It is so refreshing to hear someone having the exact same (silly!) fears about the whole process. That whole 'someone else will write it before me' fear is a big one of mine. Just reading it makes me breathe a nice sigh of relief. Best of luck with the draft!

Brenda Ferber said...

Thanks Jess!