Friday, January 20, 2012

Fear - and how it affects writers

First off, I did a guest post on my friend Jeff van Booven's blog on atheism. Ooh, ahh.

I am outlining a new book (one of the many I need to finish) and right now I'm in the infatuation stage, where everything reminds me of the book, and I keep thinking of great new ideas.

Who cares if it's a mess of notes, character design, and bits and pieces of scenes? It's my creative mess, and I like it.

But is that really why I'm working on the new book? I could go back and finish editing my last book, if I wasn't so worried over some of the edits.

Fear leads to stagnation.

Stagnation leads nowhere.

Don't get me wrong: lot of writers' fears are certainly right. "Does my book suck?" It's possible. "Will it hit bestseller lists?" Unless you're John Grisham--in your dreams.

Fear can often be grounded in reality. But fear also leads to writers closing Word documents and saying "Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week." Months like November, when people rush to write 50,000 words, are a kick in the pants. Most of the novels--heck, I would say almost all of them--are terrible.

And then there was Water for Elephants, which started as a NaNo book. What if fear kept the author from writing it?

So let me list my fears...
What if people don't like this book?
What if I can't pull off a thriller/YA novel/etiquette guide for zombies? What then?

Normal enough. But why do we, as writers, edit and re-edit and re-edit and worry that our work won't be perfect? Nothing is perfect. Your favorite book will be the next person's novel-thrown-across-the-room. The novel you throw across the room today could be the novel you fall in love with next year.

So take that fear and put it into your work. Don't let it paralyze you. View it as something positive--something to help you improve. You are, essentially, playing around on a computer until you come up with something entertaining. So go do it.

What are your biggest fears as a writer?

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