Writing Past Fear, Past Exhaustion, Past Excuses

I write this Friday night as I’m trying once again to be one top of things. We’ll see if it last until Wednesday. 😉

Anyway, I’ve been reading a few great blogs recently about fear, carpe diem, the things that can hold writers back and the things we need to remember so it doesn’t.  And I’ve been considering writing and fear.

Pop on over and read:

Kait Nolan’s post of a video about the Masks Writers Wear

A Challenge to Ride: Live to Ride, Ride to Live by Laura Drake at Writers in the Storm

Not Today … by Cristian Mihai

As you probably know if you’ve been reading this post, I’ve been working through the longest rewrites I’ve ever experienced that have now tipped on past the one year mark. This book has certainly forced me to grow in my craft and as a writer, but I certainly never want such a horrible rewrite again! And, it’s also taught me more about the fear involved in writing than I’ve experienced before.

I have never feared the blank page before, but embraced it. Yet suddenly I found myself worrying if this book will ever be done. If I’ve actually made it better. If I’ve made a serious mistake by sticking with this rewrite despite it all instead of just moving onto something new. I worry that I won’t be able to start something new, or will take too long to figure out whatever that “something new” will be. And I’m terrified of ending up in a never-ending-rewrite like this one again.

The result of all this fear?

The rewrite has gone even slower. I’ve second and third guessed myself so many times, I can no longer tell which way is up. It is only some days, that I am able to look up and beyond the fear and know I am almost done. Yes, it is better. Yes, this was worth it for the growth it’s given me. And yes, I hope this is the best book I’ve ever written … and I want to make sure the next book is even better.

It would be easier to be able to identify where this clarity comes from, and to do that, I have to go back to a clear time I felt terrified. To something I’m still terrified of.

When I was just eighteen, a few weeks after graduation, I took out my vehicle with my brother and my cousin, and scarcely a block or two from home, I miscalculated a turn. The small truck rolled, us with it. I don’t remember much of the actual happening, but I do remember the ambulances coming to take each of us away separately, my brother the most seriously injured to the highest care possible at the university. My mom ran from home to the accident scene, that’s how close we were. I remember wishing it had been me – I was responsible, I was driving, of course. And I gave my parents my driver’s license and never wanted to pick it up again. I didn’t deserve to.

And then as I tried to decide what I needed to do with the rest of my life, I got a job and to get there, I’d have to drive. When I wanted to volunteer and eventually work as a costumed historical interpreter, I had to drive. My parents weren’t going to taxi me around.

So I started driving again. Comfortable for a long time only in my dad’s truck because it was big, and I figured I’d probably live when the worst happened again (and yes, I did believe that). I had near panic-attacks when I had to drive an unfamiliar car, and worse, a stick-shift and got stuck in traffic and had to not only coordinate my shifting but also navigate into aggressive rush-hour traffic around the stalled vehicle and get myself home – in the same intersection I’d had my accident. And I survived, and I did my best to be a good driver … then I got married and didn’t have to drive for a few years.

Until I moved out of the city, and if I didn’t want to be trapped there 24/7, I needed to drive. Then I had a child, and now I was responsible for not just me, but for this dependent, fragile creature too, in my vehicle. And you know what? Every time I get behind that wheel, I have to push the fear aside and do what’s necessary, because for me, it is necessary. The fear can’t win.

And writing is the same way.

Yes, you can acknowledge the fear. You can – and should! – be proud of yourself for each time you overcome the urge to give in to that fear, to believe the insidious voice that whispers terrible things in your head, that knows your worst nightmares. Give yourself a little pat and assure yourself it will be okay, you are okay.

Then tell the fear to leave you the heck alone, because you have more important things to do, more important things to be. Because that’s the only path forward.

What about you? Have you had to overcome fear? How do you move past it? What motivates you?

Thanks for reading. And wishing you a terrific week. And hey, like the post? Why not follow the blog? Have a good one. 🙂