Motivational Essay 1-18-10
"Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially scared me to death." ~Betty Bender
Now that the holidays and my 'musical vacation' is over, my WIP is staring me in the face. Sometimes, I swear a book-in-progress is as elusive as the fireflies my younger self chased on many a sizzling summer's eve. The novel, though, can be more daunting than that wispy insect fluttering its wings. Sometimes it's more akin to chasing a bear with nothing but a glass jar in hand. When the fearsome beast swivels about and bellows a mighty roar, we come face to face with our secret terror—that we aren't *gasp* Real Writers.
'Real Writers' don't feel fear and don't panic at deadlines. 'Real Writers' have an abundance of ideas and can easily whip up a complete series in the time it takes to sneeze. 'Real Writers' never lose their train of thought or wonder if their idea is just plain stupid. 'Real Writers' Are Perfect, Therefore I'm Not A Real…
Okay, hold it right there, Sister. Are you serious?
Unfortunately, I am. My guess is 99% of all the writers in the world wonder, worry, and panic at least part of the time. The only thing that distinguishes a 'Real Writer' is whether you (despite the terror quaking in your limbs) plop your butt into whatever chair currently holds your posterior's impression, plant your trembling fingers on the keyboard and Do It Anyway.
Well, do you? Because if so, then take heart, my friend. You ARE a 'real writer'.
"Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow." ~Dan Rather
"Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared." ~Edward Vernon Rickenbacker
As one of my favorite quotes states: It is easy to be brave from a safe distance. ~Aesop
It's easy to say, "I can write a book." The doing is a whole different story, so to speak. This morning, as my eyes pored over the revisions accomplished the day before, pleasure soared through me. Yeah, baby, we're back! Up until the moment when I pulled up The Blank Page for the new scene I needed to write. As often happens, the void terrified me. What if I couldn't come up with the next scene? Or the worst fear—what if it really, truly sucks???
"Courage can't see around corners, but goes around them anyway." ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960
Well, Chiron, my dear, it might. The stink from your crappy writing might be so appalling you'll choke on the fumes. BUT, that's exactly why The Great Goddess of Writing created the miraculous ability to rewrite. Just sketch out a vague idea in your handy "Free-Write" document, then write the damn scene!
"Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway." ~John Wayne
"Every writer I know has trouble writing." ~Joseph Heller
Courage comes in many forms. For some, it's required just to dodge past the inner critic who's frowning before you type the first word. Others can dash out sentence after sentence with the glee of a bluebird swooping in flight—until the need to revise appears like a brick wall. Bam!
During those moments of quiet panic, do yourself a favor. First, remind yourself that You Are Not Alone. Realize that your favorite author, the one whose book inspired a belief that You Too could compose a novel, most likely sweated through more than a few days and nights of nerve-wracking trepidation as well.
"I am filled with doubts. Why isn't Steinbeck filled with doubts? I think he's had one lousy day of doubt throughout the time of East of Eden. Is it because he has so many outside interests? Probably. I have so few. I've never been a hobby person, and when I start working on a project, all I can think of is finishing the damn thing. And there's Steinbeck, building desks, carving oars for his sons, buying a boat, decorating his little house in New York. Should a future Nobel Laureate have a little more angst? I'd certainly appreciate it." –Write Away by Elizabeth George.
Next remember that, just as Ambrose Redmoon said, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."
Elizabeth George struggled with self-doubt, but like every successful author, she moved forward anyway. It does get easier. Some may reach the point where they feel no doubt, no fear, no trembling of fingers, no lurching nausea roiling in the gut. Others may quake the first time they peck out a sentence and experience a similar panic throughout every book. What gets easier is the ability to push onward despite the fear.
"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties." -- Bonnie Friedman
"We conquer, not in any brilliant fashion, we conquer by continuing." --- George Matheson
Tell me, how often do you struggle with fear or self-doubt? What methods do you employ to move forward?
As always, wishing everyone a productive week bursting with inspiration!
Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between the Lines.