Surviving the three fears of writing
It’s not a topic addressed often, but it’s a question often asked internally. Writers are filled with self-doubt, usually, and the idea of feeling such doubt can rock you on the ledge between writing and not writing. First, I want to tell you that you’re not alone with your insecurities. The most heard phrase (I think) is that you’re your own worst critic. And, it’s true. Writing is a subjective art, and it’s silly to assume that writers, as artists, aren’t critical of their own work.
So, what are these fears? How do you overcome them?
Every writer has a writer’s block at some point throughout the creation of their book. Those that don’t either haven’t reached the point where their ideas are finally out of their head, or they call it by another name: laziness, procrastination, lack of inspiration, etc. Writer’s block brings your mind to a complete halt; it’s like thunder before a storm. If you don’t see it coming, it startles you and may scare you.
The funny thing about this simile is that, when you expect it, you at least have a chance to prepare. For a storm, I mean. Well, this is the same with writer’s block.
Let the ideas flow
What I mean by this is when you have the chance, let the ideas pour onto your pages so when a thunder cloud rolls your way and you get writer’s block, you can simply come back later knowing where you want the story to go.
That’s one way to go about it, but it’s far from full-proof. All this will do is provide you a rough outline, but I know not all writers can do this.
Write a different scene
Try writing something you might want to happen later or earlier. If you can’t think of anything, write something random. Put your main character in a situation completely irrelevant to the story. Why? This will get your brain juices going. It’s fun. It’s inspiring. And, sometimes, it ignites an idea.
Work on another project
If you’re working on more than one project, shifting to another one when you lose motivation or inspiration on your current one can keep your brain going. Training your brain to work even when it thinks it’s done working can also prevent future writer’s block. So, working on another project will remind your brain that stopping one thing doesn’t mean it can stop completely. It will also help train your brain to shift inspiration around, which might help you get through your stories faster.
Take a break
Face it, we’re human. We’re not God, and we never will be. So, we must rest. Take a nap, wash some dishes, pay your rent—anything that’s not writing. Exercising is a good one, too. Or, stare at a wall if you want. It’s a break.
Get back to writing, later.
Read what you’ve written
If you look back on what you’ve already written, you can organize your thoughts again. Sometimes, writer’s block comes when we lose our train of thought, and it’s easy to forget that losing our train of thought is an easily solved problem. The advantage you have here is that you have your memory written on paper. Just read the beginning of the chapter, or maybe even the chapter before it, and work from there.
Watch a movie/read a book of the same genre or theme
Inspiration comes from successfully executed ideas. You might already have a movie or book in mind, but if not, check your Netflix or DVD shelf. Browse your bookcase. Look for something similar to what you’re trying to write, even if it only falls in the same genre, and let that be your inspiration.
My mind vs. your mind
Your mind works like a hundred mice running on wheels. You’re constantly thinking of a hundred different things so, when you write, it doesn’t always make sense to anyone except you. That’s a fear, right? That what you right won’t only be complex and confusing, but that you will have just wasted all your time writing it.
Your readers see this. They’ll read something you wrote, and if it’s raw, sometimes they’ll find themselves more confused than engaged. This happens if you’re not careful.
So, I’m going to separate this into two subgroups. First, this does happen. Second, it doesn’t always happen.
Before it happens
You’re writing, and when you finish one thousand words for that day, you linger on the thought that it probably sucks and doesn’t make sense. That’s okay. First, step back. You don’t need to dwell on something you’re still working on. It is a rough draft, after all. Second, if you can’t find it, one of your alpha/beta readers might. Give it time. Keep writing. Maybe, you’ll find the answer to your lingering question later. If not, that’s okay, too. You might be overthinking it.
The point is, you won’t know until it happens. All you can do is set up preparations in case it does happen so you can fix it accordingly. But don’t let that fear of “What if?” stop you from writing. Every writer alive has felt or will feel what you’re feeling. There’s no reason to think you’re the exception and you’re right. You might be, but all writers are, at some point.
Just keep working, and keep improving. It’s not going on bookshelves yet, so why worry? You’re not writing for an audience right now. Write for yourself first.
When it happens
Ideally, we’re talking about your alpha or beta readers, not your published work. If your work is published, you probably didn’t use an editor if you’re here looking for the answer to your question. So there’s your answer. Get it edited.
When you have a volunteer reading, however, they’ll point out areas that don’t make sense, sniff out the confusing scenes, and dig up the dirt beneath your characters to see if there are any roots. Hopefully.
When the missing pieces are pointed out, don’t fret. Rejoice! That means you have a chance to repot those plants and give the roots more room to grow. In other words, you get to improve your story and make it even better. If you were excited about it before, you’ll be more excited when you realize how much better it is after all those revisions.
Readers not being interested
Naturally, not everyone has the same interests. If we did, we would be fighting over the same career. If I am interested in something, I want other people to be. The problem is, we’re all different.
You won’t ever write something everyone likes. It’s just that simple. Get that through your brain now because there’s absolutely no exception to this fact. I know people who hate fantasy but love romance. Some people can’t stand to read a word of fiction. Others obsess over inspirational books. People have different tastes. Your job isn’t to see how many you can appeal to, so quit trying.
Instead, write for yourself. Edit for your reader. Keep that rule in your head. Don’t forget that you’re writing your story. If someone doesn’t like it, the only thing you can do is ask for feedback so they can tell you why they didn’t like it, and if any tips they provide will improve your story, apply them. If not, disregard them. Not every critique will be right. That’s why you’re the writer. It’s up to you to decide.
At the end of the story, it’s your decision. Don’t try to listen to everyone because you think everyone’s right. Don’t fight the urge to stop writing because of one bad review or comment. Don’t stop fighting because part of the fight for a writer is learning how to accept critique. If you can’t do that, you should probably stick to a private journal. But, don’t stop writing. You gain nothing from it if writing is something you enjoy doing. Keep going. Keep trying, and remember that you’re not alone. There are millions of us writers out there.