Facing Writing Fears – Part 1

For the past two weeks I have felt anxious every time I sat down to write at my laptop.

I have spent hours looking at the blank page–hours upon hours–and it’s not that I don’t know what should happen next in the scene. I do, I know where the story is going for a least a couple of scenes ahead of where I am.

Yet, words are evading me and sitting down to write feels like a chore. And I love to write. Stringing words together shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth.

I wanted to find the root cause: why has it been so hard to write? Why, when in the beginning the sentences were like melodic little birds, cheerfully chirping their way on to the page: optimistic, upbeat and in quick succession.

So I scoured the internet for help, and of course Sooz has done a series on this, because she has covered everything. It’s called from FRAB (Fear Related Artistic Block) to Fab.

Sooz says:

Since we often forget about fear, dismiss it as simple laziness, or simply don’t speak of it (since no one wants to admit to such a weakness), we never deal with the fears. As such, they continue to pop up and keep our words/art/creativity from flowing. (Sooz, “From FRAB to Fab – Part 1″)

Sooz has listed off some symptoms of which the following relate to how I am feeling with my writing:

  • You don’t feel like writing, even though you’re pretty sure you love your story.
  • You know you’re not just lazy because you’re BICHOK-ing every day…but every. Single. Word. You. Write. Feels. Like. Crap. And it’s just agony getting any words out.
  • You know you’re not just writing the wrong thing because you feel this story is right and you’ve daydreamed for hours and the appeal of cookies just isn’t hacking it
  • You think you might need a new computer. Or a new program. Or a new writing space. Or just a new set of pens. Whatever it is that you need, it’s different from what you currently use to write with–and you simply can’t write again until you have a new program/office/playlist/pack of highlighters.
  • Whenever you sit down to write–or even think about sitting down to write–your chest kinda caves in and your stomach knots up. You might power on through that feeling…or you might go do something else instead. (Sooz, “From FRAB to Fab – Part 1″)

So I realized I have some significant fears holding me back from achieving creative-flow with my writing. MASSIVE amounts of fear, and in order to tackle it, I need to be honest with the things that are holding me back.

Sooz’s guide to tackling the fear includes four steps:

Step One: identify your FRAB mission statements

I’ve written down what I want to change in my creative life, these are my mission statements:

  1. I want to feel okay with setting aside time to dedicate to my writing pursuits
  2. I want to feel okay with the writing I do write – that it is not crap, that I can and will polish it until it shines
  3. I want to acknowledge the craft and learn from it, but not be inhibited from writing because I feel like I don’t ‘know everything there is to know’
  4. I want to write more than 1 book per year.

Step Two: Acknowledging what it is that you fear

Instead of fighting our fears, or rationalizing our fears, we need to acknowledge them, become intimate with them, befriend them, and only then can we understand the root cause of our difficulty and the ways in which we can overcome them.

When you fight your fears by dismissing them or pretending you’re not afraid at all, you’re only brushing the fear beneath the rug. (Sooz, “From FRAB to Fab – Part 2“)

And

But rationalization is really just another form of fighting a fear–of telling a fear it isn’t valid and to go back whence it came. But fears aren’t rational, so how could trying to rationalize them–trying to force them into submission via logic–ever possibly work? (Sooz, “From FRAB to Fab – Part 2“)

My fears:

  • I am the WORST writer and no matter how much time and energy I put into learning everything I can about writing, it will all end up being for nothing. It will never be worthy of others eyes. Why are you spending so much time on this day in, day out? Why?
  • No CP/Beta is ever going to want to read this mess, they will think it’s my shitty first draft (even though it’s the 9th rewrite)
  • I won’t do justice to my characters, to my story world, they deserve better than this. And I can’t give it to them. Gah. Give. Up.
  • Even if I get my WIP polished and through CP’s and Beta’s, it won’t matter, because it’s still sub-par and no agent will want a bar of it. Why are you spending so much time on this? Why?
  • What if I spend all this time, years upon years, writing, and sacrificing other pursuits, only to end up with nothing?

Pretty intense stuff, this session requires you to look at your fears honestly, to dig deep and find your deepest darkest fears. But next week, in Part 2, I look at what my core-creative FRABs are by breaking down those concerns I listed above, and looking at why they exist–what are they trying to protect me from? Then, using Sooz’s method I’ve come up with ways to help mitigate these fears, and shrink them into oblivion.

Let me know do you face writing fears? Do you feel like they hold you back? Would you consider writing your own mission statements and setting out your fears? 

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