Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Writer, What Are You Scared Of?

This next scene is going to be hard. I don't know if this is coming out right. I don't think anyone is going to like this story. People are going to hate me if I write this. I can't be this mean to my characters. What if I screw it up? I don't know how to do X effectively.

Any of these fears sound familiar? Feel free to add your own.

When fear strikes, the page remains blank. I think most writers have been there. Sometimes we'll say we're stuck when really, we're just afraid to write the next scene. Next time you're stuck, look closely at the root of the problem and see if fear is lurking down deep somewhere. I'll tell you something. When we let fear stop us, we are being fools.

Think about it. Say you forge ahead and you write something absolutely awful. Not the awful invented by the doubts in your head but truly lousy writing. What harm has been done? You don't have to show it to anyone. And if writing something bad is part of your process and moves you forward to the point where you write something good, then the bad writing was a good thing.

More than once I've started a story and failed to get the right tone. I can't move forward when this happens. I have to get the initial attitude right before I continue. So I write another opening, and another. Usually by the second or third try I'll get it right. But if I sit with only a blank page and it stays blank because I'm afraid, I'll never get it right. You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket, and you can't edit if you don't write.

My next bit of advice is easier said than done. Write Fearlessly! Every day the media is filled with things they tell us to be afraid of. Don't eat this, don't buy that, be scared of this obscure danger. We've been raised in and are consistently subjected to a culture of fear. It's all balderdash! And of all things, you have complete control over your writing. You decide what to write and when it's ready to share with the world. Even your deepest, darkest secrets on the page can't hurt you unless you let them. Your only concern should be bringing forth the truth of your story. Some people will like it, some won't. So be it. That's the truth of everything in this world. Fear has no place in your writing heart. Banish it whenever it rears its ugly head.

Be stronger than the fear. And if it beats you once, kick its ass the next time. Rinse and repeat until you are the awesome writer you strive to be.

In fact, I think I'm going to make a sign, Fear is a Stupid Pooty-head, and post it right above my monitor. ;-)


  1. I love this, and I've felt this before. There's a quote by Shannon Hale that she says she thinks of first drafts as shoveling sand in a box that she'll make sandcastles out of later. I love that. There's also a song from [title of Show] called die vampire die, which pardon the language, but it's one of my writing mottos. Here's the link

  2. I'm afraid I'll follow some critiquing advice that I maybe shouldn't, even though no such advice is "wrong" per se or ill-intentioned. I worry that I'll be appealing to a minority if I do and losing a majority. Irrational fear, I know, since I don't have to take it and I can always save a branch of the draft and change it back later.

    On a lighter note, this post made me think..."fear does not exist in this dojo, does it?!"

    1. My rule of thumb with crit advice is if it was repeated by multiple critters, I take seriously the idea that something isn't working. If it's a single comment, I recognize that it's more subjective and will only change things if I agree with it.
      The other thing I'm learning is to not worry about audience too much. I need to write for me. This is something I'm still working on though and I have no idea if it will translate into sales. But I believe I'm coming out with better stories.


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