Monday, March 3, 2014

On Writing and Fear


I spent some of this morning wondering if I actually don't feel ready to write a book or if I'm afraid to. I really try not to fear most things, so I was hung up considering the second option. 

The day I spend at home writing all day is one of my favorite days. Sometimes I open all the doors and let the breeze in. Somedays I turn up the heater and stay in my robe. Somedays I sit in the dark all day and don't even notice until 3 p.m. It is so fun. I love the opportunity to sort through my thoughts. I love pounding on my keyboard like a piano, turning up and down the music and snapping my fingers like an idiot. I love writing. It's weird to so deeply love something that frequently makes me produce things I hate. 

Back to the fear thing. I actually don't think I'm ready to write a book because I still feel I need to grow a lot as a writer. If I wrote a book right now, I think I would end up hating it in approximately thirteen months. But maybe I'll always feel this way. 

Maybe the writing a book dilemma is solved with the same advice I was given about having babies: you can wait your whole life to be ready, but you never will be. 

What are your thoughts on fear? Do you have dreams of writing a book?

21 comments:

  1. I actually wrote a novel about 10 years ago and have been fearful of sending it to a publisher. Not sure why. I think part of it is that it feels deeply personal and then there are the what ifs? What if its hated? Or what if its loved? Will it then still feel personal? I don't know. But I have to agree I can look back at those days when I was writing and they were some of the most relaxing and fun ones.

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    1. It sounds like a good book, Marcia.

      It's interesting that you fear its success too. Because, you're right, it being successful would change things. I've only ever feared the failure, I think.

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  2. I can't imagine being motivated to write an entire book, but if anyone can do it you can! And pictures of snow? Did you actually get some? I'm so sick of snow! Haha.

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    1. Thanks Allison. I promise not to post too many pictures of snow :)

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  3. I completely understand your fear. I write for a living and I know I'm pretty good at that (marketing/selling people and their businesses), but I have always wanted to write a book, but my brain has, for the last 5 years or so, left me void of ideas. I suspect this may be a defence mechanism - if I have no ideas, I cannot write, therefore I cannot fail! xx

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    1. That's an interesting theory-you can't think of ideas for a book because of fear. I can't decide if it's fear keeping me from it or not, but I'm suspicious.

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  4. I'd love to be a writer, but I don't know where to start. I did write about a quarter of a book once. Hmm, you've got me thinking about it all now. I'd really like to write articles now, but like you say, there's the whole fear of failure thing. Coincidentally I listened to a short programme on the radio yesterday about the value of failure. The episode yesterday featured a writer, and each day this week there will be a different presenter. It's only fifteen minutes long, and well worth a listen if you have time. It certainly addresses some of the points you have made, and talks about the process of writing a book. You can find it at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03wp6kh. It's only available to listen to for another six days (I tend to miss things I want to listen to because I miss the deadlines). Your writing days sound wonderful, I'm sure you will succeed if it is something you really want to do. You strike me as someone who will make things happen for her. And I know from reading your blog how beautifully your words flow.

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    1. You're a great writer CJ! I'd love to read a book written by you. I'll have to check out that radio program. Thanks! And thank you, as always, for you very sweet words.

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  5. I also understand where you're coming from -- but just like you're able to go out on a big day, surf in comps, put yourself out there in the blogging world...the words, stories, characters, etc. are all there inside you, waiting for you to access and take the plunge. I'm not sure if you lean toward writing fiction/non-fiction, or what category/genre, but there are great support communities out there (especially on Twitter-- I know!) that will help you move past your reservations and go for it. (And I encourage you to go for it because I believe we all have a story to tell. Some are certainly better than others, but there's no greater regret than not trying.)

    I have TONS to say on this because after about seven years of trying for the traditional agent-publication model, I went forth and self-published and you know what, it feels pretty darn great. The book, To the Sea, that I published certainly isn't my best (and I wrote several real duds that came before it) but everyday that I get to my desk and write makes me giddy and that feeling tells me I'm on the right (write- heh heh - I know I'm also such a punny dork) track.

    All being said, you will find your way when the time is right, which although I agree with your comment about the time never being exactly right, the universe guides us to the right time without us even knowing (I have kids too so I can say that!)

    Best wishes Devon! You seem like a really amazing person, and I trust that you'll honor your unique voice. XO (P.S. Also, thanks for sharing this so boldly, that says alot, and your being open to feedback.)

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    1. I know you are a great resource on this subject, Deirdre! Thanks for the advice. It's really cool you took the leap and wrote a book. I'm impressed.

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  6. I think if you have a book in you, you should go for it. Don't wait, fear will always find a reason to hold you back. I recently wrote a post about pushing through fear and self-doubt and the times that I have don so. For me jumping in with both feet was the way to go, especially when it was something I really wanted. Good luck with your book!

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    1. Thanks Kelli :) I really appreciate the advice and the vote of confidence.

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  7. I agree that you'll never truly be ready. Even when you write one, it will never truly be finished, never truly be edited, never truly be perfect. But the good news is, I think everyone who has ever written a book feels this way.

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    1. I bet your right. Thanks for the insight :)

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  8. Every writer I know hates every single book they've written for a while. Don't let that stop you. One of my favorite writers is the singer Tristan Prettyman. She used to blog a lot and we emailed back and forth during a hard time and I can honestly say her writing in all its forms changed my life. She is unapologetically her. Someone out there will connect (does connect!) to the writing that you will put out and when they do, that's everything. The only way to grow as a writer is to write and sometimes the only way to stop hating what you write is to see how much it helps other people. Don't be so hard on yourself!

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    1. Thanks Bri :) I love Tristan Prettyman too. What a cool story. I'm glad she has had such a positive impact on you. That's really cool. One of my favorite songs of hers is "Anything at All". To just be yourself like that is really freeing. It's neat if she can be that way in her writing and work.

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  9. Based on this comment thread, and some conversations with my writer buddies at work in the last few weeks, you're in good company, Devon! :)

    Fear is definitely a barrier for me. There are several stories I want to write, but I keep bailing a few pages of notes in. Sometimes I write a little, hate it, and get frustrated with myself and give up. But I keep coming back to those stories, so that tells me that yes, I really want to write them, I'm just using excuses to avoid it.

    My buddy at work just submitted his manuscript to a local publisher. He might get a rejection letter, which would be disappointing. But he also might get a book deal, something he'd never get if he didn't submit the query - or write (and edit) the book! So, if you want to write a book, even if the book you write right now may not be your finest work, I hope you will start writing one! See where it goes and what it brings up. You might start writing one story and discover another in it - creativity seems to feed itself. Now I just need to take my own advice, too :)

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    1. Thanks for this advice Jacki. It's good and your right, submitting and getting rejected is much better than not submitting at all.

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  10. Oh I feel this so much! There's a lot that I'm afraid of, especially around pursuing my career dreams - both writing and teaching yoga. I've let a lot of that fear hold me back and prevent me from even starting. I have a tendency to over think things haha. made a commitment to myself that this year, I was just going to do it and get my writing and pitches and teaching out there. Some of it stinks but some of it doesn't. Some of the best advice that I've received, especially about writing, is "be a writer not a waiter." I'm not sure we'll ever feel entirely ready but you do have a story to tell and so much to share!

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  11. I would urge you to press on to your fear, I believe what you mentioned is right, if you keep waiting until you're "ready" you''ll never be ready. Write the book and whether it is amazing then great! And if it a horrible failure, then oh well, try again! You have nothing to lose and you'll be a better writer for it! :)

    Sincerely,
    A person that wants to read your book.

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  12. Oh hey there, it's your friend Sheila giving you a kick in the pants! Start your book! "You will look back in a year and wish you had started." You are a great writer, and I will be the first to buy your book - 3 if I have to:) xo (Go write, I believe in you!!)

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