Monday, September 13, 2010

Facing Your Fears (Part 2)

Okay, I've never done a blogging series before, so I hope you'll bear with me. I'm still feeling my way through this thing. Well, let's dive right in, shall we?

In my last post, I discussed how fear is an emotion that both helps and harms us. I also mentioned how it can be a pretty serious Muse-killer if we allow it to be. In the comments section, we talked about our fears at different stages in the writing process. These three were the ones most likely to have us waking up in a cold sweat:

Fear of FAILURE: This is probably the most obvious of the three. You know the feeling. You find an agent, but she can't sell your story to save her life. Or, you find a publishing home but the book tanks. Or worse, it gets all sorts of press---only it's the bad kind. Pick your scenario, but they all end the same way; namely, with you curled up in the fetal position in the corner of your bedroom, sucking your thumb.
  • Fear of "WRITING LIMBO": This fear is similar to #1, but with a subtle difference. It's less about the crash-and-burn and more about never having the chance to crash in the first place. It's that infuriating mental brick wall we writers lovingly refer to as "writer's block." It's getting stuck in the quicksand of endless revisions. It's querying the same story for what seems like years and never getting past form rejections. If that stuff doesn't give you the heebie-jeebies, you ain't serious about writing.
  • Fear of SUCCESS: At first glance, this last fear seems a little nonsensical, doesn't it? Picture the pinnacle of success for a writer: a seven-figure book deal, a big-budget movie offer, a spot on Oprah's Book Club AND the New York Times bestseller list... Who in their right mind would be afraid of that? Someone who thinks about what comes next---how to surpass all those lovely expectations you've set for yourself. After all, you're only as good as your last book, right? How on earth do you top Oprah's book club? What if you run out of things to say and nobody likes you ever, ever again?

  • I'll bet some of you out there are thinking this post is a little...well, depressing for your taste. If so, I don't blame you; it's a bit of a downer to me as well. But here's the thing: our fears can never go away unless we face them. We have to look them square in the eye and not flinch, not even for a second. This is the first step: calling them what they are, giving them a name.

    Part 3 is the hardest part, doing what it takes to move past them. Are you ready?


    1. Can't we just ignore the fear until it goes away? Haha, ok, fine, I'm facing it. Love this series!

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    3. Meredith: Aw, I'm glad you're enjoying the series. I like to blog about what I'm facing in my writing life, and right now conquering fear has been a big struggle for me. It's nice to connect with other wonderful folks who are going through the same thing, you know? Thanks for reading!

    4. Oooh! I have to go back and read the first one. Did someone mention the fear of picking the wrong project to work on? That's where I get paralyzed: what to write and when!

    5. Natasha: Hey, that's a good one! I never thought of that before. I don't think anyone has mentioned it yet, but it makes a lot of sense, especially if you're like me and have 4 or 5 story ideas going on in your head at once ;-)