The Fear

It’s not an everyday thing. But some mornings, after I finish my breakfast, FB, emails. It comes.

The Fear. That today I won’t know where to begin my writing. That I’ll sit at the laptop frozen in terror. That my abilities won’t come. That I won’t be enough anymore.

It’s a freaky discombobulating sensation. An anchor dragging me down. While a frenzy of anxiety fireworks shoot off in my mind.

What if today is the day that I can’t do it anymore?

What if I don’t have any more ideas or enhancements to the manuscript?

What if I just can’t do it?

Blind searing panic. Rips open the door on self doubt. The naysayers in my own mind gnaw at me.

And then I force myself to sit down. To start the editing. Sometimes the gears are rusty, but my mind eventually finds the grooves.

And if I can’t edit, I story storm the next book. Type some bullet points for the outline that I haven’t drafted yet.

And if that doesn’t work, I write the blog.

Worst case, I send an oh-my-God-I’ll-never-write-again email to a friend.

Anything to get the writing juices flowing.

It’s been 5 years of writing stories. And this still happens. I think it’s just a part of the writing life.

The fear is always there. The coping mechanisms just get more refined and so what could paralyze you for a week can be condensed down to 15 minutes.

How do you cope with anxiety? The fear of writer’s block/losing your muse?

This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to The Fear

  1. Gerard says:

    Sometimes it’s best to put things down for a while, take a break, do something fun, and then go back to work knowing that you have what it takes and that the creative juices, although slow at times, will always flow.

  2. berry says:

    I work out. Six hours.

  3. Pingback: Reblog: The Fear « Kourtney Heintz's Journal

  4. CC MacKenzie says:

    Sometimes I hit a wall rather than a block as such. When that happens it feels like chipping away at a rockface with a toothpick. Horrible. But every single time something seems to spark and off I go. It usually happens if I’ve an unresolved issue with motivation and I’ll go back and see where that happened and most of the time find it.

    Or I’ll dip into another work in progress or I’ll read my favourite authors, that usually does the trick!

    • CC, I like that analogy of hitting of wall. ๐Ÿ™‚ And those are all great ways to work around it. I find when I put my mind on another writing task sometimes a solution bubbles up to the other writing problem. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. 4amWriter says:

    I know the fear. I’m actually experiencing a pretty dibilitating case of it right now. I just *just* wrapped up the final polish to my ms that I had queried last year, got a request for a full, followed up by a rejection that told me nothing other than my writing is beautiful, but the project is not for them. After a lot of soul-searching, I rewrote a huge plotline, which has taken me 6 months to complete. I am ready to query again.

    But I’m stalling. Stalling to the point that I have started rewriting my opening page. Stalling to the point I’m questioning my inciting event.

    This weekend I’m stepping away from it and going to the Cape and to the Vineyard to hang out with my brothers and my sister and their families. I am hoping that by not focusing on it so much will help me long for it and remind me that this is what I want to do, be a novelist.

    I really like all of your methods at overcoming the fear. Everyone needs to know what her arsenal consists of, and this post is helpful to me in that I need to gather some more weapons. And then use them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Kathryn, it’s really hard to deal with. I’ve gotten that response on several partials and fulls. I think the market is really really tough and I think agents are very concerned about which projects they take on. Sometimes it can be as simple as they know an editor wants a thriller with literary elements and that’s what they are hunting for because they know there is a market for it. Rejection is really really hard. I go through periods where I consider stopping querying, even stopping writing. Usually I take a break from one of them and realize this is what I want to do. It helps me to remember that Laurel K Hamilton got over 200 rejections on her first Anita Blake book (and that went on to be a NYT Bestseller and a long running series).

      You sound like your at that over-editing point. Good call to get away and switch gears. Family time will clear your head and help you see that your writing is good. ๐Ÿ™‚ The ocean always gives me perspective–so jealous the Cape and the Vineyard are stunning. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Just know no matter how much you rework everything, this is just a draft. A polished draft. But your agent will request revisions as will your eventual publisher. So try to write the best book you can and then send it out. Maybe gather 20-30 rejections and then think about what possible revisions are needed. I revise every 6 months or so on whatever completed manuscript I have.

      Thanks! I still have these fear moments. The last book felt like a horror movie. Constant fear in the last 100 pages. I’d procrastinate about sitting at my computer. I’d do anything to avoid figuring out what happened next. I fretted it would never come together. But in the end, butt in chair, I figured it out. The fear still came. I just learned to work with it.

      Sounds like you are developing a good arsenal too. And self awareness is the most important part of it, which you definitely have! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    I give myself the permission to write crap. Once I know what I write doesn’t have to be perfect, I chill out a bit and can just enjoy the process. Of course, this assumes I’m not procrastinating on a bunch of other stuff instead of writing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. jmmcdowell says:

    Self-doubt gets all of us. When it makes me remember awful dreams, I know I need to face it down! But it’s easier for me to be a cheerleader for other writers than for myself. Gotta work on that!

    I know many of us want that traditional publishing deal. But I think too many of us give up on a good book rather than go the e-route or even the full self-e-route. I’m hearing more and more accounts of agents picking up writers who have first e/self-published. Maybe we shouldn’t consign some books to the bottom drawer in this new age.

    That’s a bit off-topic, but Kathryn’s post got me thinking about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You’ve got some great pointers about getting past the anxiety. And they’re a timely reminder for me. Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • LOL. Very true. It’s so much easier to cheer on other writers. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sometimes I make myself re-read my blog posts and pretend I didn’t write them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I think it’s a personal choice. My first book has gotten lots of full requests but no agent. I’ve revised several times. It may not be a good book. I’m not sure I would invest the time and money in self or e-publishing because I’m not sure of that book. My second book did make the semifinals in the Amazon contest. I think if I couldn’t find an agent for that book, I would consider self- or e-pubbing it.

      I’ve read of authors getting an agent on query #1, #60, #200+.

      I think the important thing is to put your work out there and get feedback and then revise. Do this a few times. If you aren’t having success with an agent, then ofc consider e or self pubbing it.

      I guess my big fear is thinking something is good when it isn’t and putting a bad book out there because I can’t see its flaws. That’s my main reason for pursuing traditional publishing.

      Glad you mentioned it though because it is something I think about too.:)

      Lol. I wrote that post so I wouldn’t forget the fear or the only ways I’d found to deal with it. It’s so easy to think I’ve never felt this way before and get scared. Luckily the blog forces me to realize I’ve been through it before and I can get through it again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Wow. Look how far you’ve come since this post. ๐Ÿ™‚ So glad you wrote your way through your fear, Kourtney. Inspiring!!

    • LOL. Thanks August! But I had many fear moments during the drafting of my third novel too! All spring it gnawed at me. I was so stressed out by the fear that I wouldn’t find my way to the end. ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad I keep writing, but the fear never goes away. It creeps over me with revisions too. ๐Ÿ™‚ How is Thrillerfest going?

  9. Yatin says:

    My fear is usually beating my own expectations. I am not sure I have clear answer on how to beat that that fear.

Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?