11 Feb Why fear stops us writing
I’m a great one for New Year’s resolutions. Starting or re-starting a writing project in the first quarter is sensible. You have the rest of the year to get it done.
And if you have the right systems in place, you can complete a non-fiction book in a year. Less if that’s your only focus.
Yet why is it that starting can be so hard? I’m facing this issue with my next novel. I’ve done a fair amount of planning, written a bit, the story is rambling around my brain in supermarket queues. Yet I haven’t got my routine going, or my word clock ticking.
So I just called my writing buddy and we set a date to meet when we have to show each other our work. Something. Anything. Proof that the project is coming along.
I’ve also given her a date when she’s going to call me for the proverbial swift kick to check my progress. Sometimes you need help from outside – at least to get you on track.
Fear often stops people writing. Fear that your idea isn’t original or you’re writing isn’t good enough. Fear of being judged; fear of exposing yourself. Fear of negative feedback. It can become paralysing and if that’s what’s blocking you, it’s helpful to work out what is at the root.
Even writing about the fear can be enough to diffuse it. Or hearing other people’s stories and the issues they’re having with their book makes you realise you’re not alone.
Sometimes the only thing to do is feel it and get the fingers tapping. Here are 3 things that help me.
3 ways to overcome fear
- When I don’t know where to start, I go with my gut feeling. What’s the most dramatic part of my story? If I start there, I’m more likely to be excited and want to carry on. If I am excited, so is my reader.
- If I’ve written a lot but have lost my way, I go back to my white board. I buy post-it notes and index cards. I look at what I’ve written to get an overview and write out the key scenes on my post-it notes or cards. I shuffle them around to figure out my best way forward.
- I open a new word document and start the story afresh. Only once I’ve got a rhythm do I go back and look at what I’ve done. It’s a way to trick yourself.
Later in the year I will be running a course on effective writing tools. That’s my new year’s resolution for 2014: Write smarter, Work faster.