Friday Five: Thoughts on Fear

  1. Author Veronica Roth (DIVERGENT)’s brave post on the fear she’s faced while writing her sequel
  2. Author Erin Bowman (THE LAICOS PROJECT)’s awesome post on her fear after getting a book deal
  3. Author Elizabeth Gilbert (EAT PREY LOVE)’s TED talk on the psychological construct of muses and doing the work despite the fear. This is one of my favorite talks on creativity ever, because it fuses the notion that there is some divine spark of inspiration with the fact that you have to sit your ass down and work whether the inspiration shows up or not.
  4. Three of my not-yet-pubbed friends have emailed me in the last week, plagued by the sharp teeth and claws of Doubt Monsters. They’re all fantastic writers. I believe with my whole heart that all three of them will be published.
  5. I’ve been wrestling the Doubt Monsters lately myself as I work on my edits for BORN WICKED. This is the first time I’ve been on deadline. It’s the first time I’ve gotten such extensive revision notes. I’m incredibly lucky to have gotten an amazing deal, to be able to quit my job, to have such a supportive editor. But I want to make everyone proud. I want to be awesome. I want this book to be wildly successful. I want readers to love my book. I want these things very, very badly. And if I think about it too much, I get stuck. It’s too much. I can’t write from that place of fear and overwhelm. I find excuses to go out with friends, to take naps, to read, to eat cookies, to do anything except write. I expect this sort of paralysis happens to almost all writers, over and over again, at various points. For me? The best solution I’ve found so far is to take my ego out of it. I may not always trust myself, but I trust The Playwright and my fabulous CP and my amazing editor to tell me when things work and when they don’t and help me fix it. I trust the process—that if I do my part, if I show up and get quiet and shove my ego out of the way, we’ll figure it out.  It’s not about me. It’s about the story. Telling the story is manageable. Telling the story is my job.

12 Responses

  1. How come nobody posted a comment YET???
    I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I came across Veronica's yesterday. It's humbling for starters like myself to read about facing this fear. True I'm not in your shoes, but learning from you could make all the difference. Thanks again.

    1. Thank you! I don't know if the fear ever goes away, at any stage in this process. But I think we can get better and better at batting it away, and not letting it interfere with our work and our joy in the work.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! Always reassuring to see others experience fear and doubt at all stages of the process. And sometimes success can be more paralyzing than failure. That feeling of "YES! What I dreamed about is happening–holy crap, I hope I don't screw it up!"

  3. Oh my gosh, this is such a wonderful post. I go through confident phases, especially after hearing good news, like after I got an agent, then sold the book, but then new fears pop up. It's like a never ending cycle- yes, I wrote one book that might be okay, but what if I can't do it again? What if people don't like the first book? Yes, the Doubt Monster is a great consumer of our emotions. I'm in editing phases too, and all of the 'wants' you listed are the things I hope so desperately for too.

    I like your solutions to paralysis. We all have tricks of getting out of it, of overcoming the monster and putting fingers to the laptop keys again (although one of my self-tricks is to start writing long-hand–it feels less official and scary than a blank word document and curser blinking!). Also reading inspirational writing guides (though not the cheesy ones). And talking to the other Apocalypsies, makes me feel so much less alone, being able to talk to people who are GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING!!!! Then, when all else fails, I skip to a kissing scene, which I'm generally always excited to write 😉

    1. Thanks so much, Heather! I am so grateful for the Apocalypsies. It's so reassuring to know that we're all going through this together, and to know we have all the cheers & reassurance & commiseration at the ready for each other.

      Kissing scenes are my favorites too. 🙂

  4. I think the doubt demons never really flee for good – there's always something that will be new and difficult to tackle, and more people to not let down. But the further we get, the more experience we have in shoving the doubt away and chanting "I can do this, just breathe!" Plus you can always call writer friends to vent!

    Great post 🙂

  5. Jess, I absolutely loved Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk. Thank you for sharing! And overall, a great roundup of links and thoughts on doubt/fear/creativity.

    I'm so happy to see more people talking about these topics. It is such a nice reminder that every creative person struggles with fear and doubt, that they are just another part of the process. And as Gilbert points out — sometimes inspiration shows up, sometimes it doesn't. And we have to sit down and work on either day. Some days are harder than others.

    1. Thanks for your post, too! I think it's really reassuring to read about other writers facing the same doubts and fears and how they cope. So many different strategies! And like you said, there will always be joyful days and difficult days.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.