So right now I have a manuscript out on submission, and one that has just gone through another round of revisions prior to being submitted, and I’m about 10,000 words in on a new book.
This book scares me.

I’m still at my dithering point (the beginning) where I go in and write a 1000 words or so, or move a few words around. I’m not committing fully yet. I’m still playing with it. As if I’m a cat approaching a frog and I’m not sure if it’s going to bite me or kiss me.

This is usually how it is with me. And that’s OK. I like this flirtation phase. We are taking each other’s measure, this new book idea and I. And it makes it easier for me to get involved especially as it is the 4th manuscript I am getting to know in a period of about 2 years. I don’t think I’ve taken more than a month off of writing in all that time.
But the dancing around is a bit more pronounced this time and I finally figured out, it’s because I am terrified of writing this particular story.
It feels big to me.
The world I have created feels boundless.
The characters are very close to my heart.

I felt this same sort of panic while I was writing FIERCE (this is the book currently out on submission).
I almost feel ill. It’s as if I owe it to the characters not to eff it up. And right now, at the beginning there is much potential for making some wrong choices.
And the fact is, some books I write feel more important to me than others. I don’t love them any less, but the intensity is different. This one feels intense, and mixed in with the excitement is some worry.

I know I’ll get over it. I did with FIERCE but it required stepping back a little and looking at the words, and the structure of it, and trying not to feel everything so much.
And it required plenty of these things:

How do YOU deal with writing anxiety?

9 thoughts on “FEAR

  1. This was a highly apposite blog for me to read, Jo – and actually, you’ve made me feel a bit better, because it’s exactly how I’ve been feeling for weeks. I too am at the 10,000 words stage, and when I wake up in the morning, I feel as though I’m in a free-falling elevator plunging to the basement. Everything you say in this post chimes with me.

    I don’t know if there’s a solution, you just have to go through it (and exercise) but it’s nice to know there’s at least two of us feeling this way!

    1. I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one feeling this way. The free-falling elevator sensation completely resonates.
      I am more proud of Fierce than I am of any other book I’ve written so far, so perhaps that means that this book also will be very personal and emotionally strong to me.
      I will definitely write through it but I hope I get to some easier chapters soon.

  2. Wow.. This gave me the chills. I don’t think I deal with the fear yet, maybe don’t even acknowledge it becuse I think I should not be fear filled. Reading this is a bit of an eye opener. Good luck with FIERCE.

  3. Thanks Deb. It doesn’t happen with every book thankfully. I think it only happens with the ones that strike some visceral chord in the writer. It’s almost a fight or flee reaction but it’s exciting at the same time. Just have to keep the thrill from crippling me.

  4. Great post, Jo.

    I have a manuscript that I’ve put on hold right now (I’m 50,000 words in). In getting to this point, I experienced what you’re talking about. I’d be at a junction and realize that I could go either this way or that, and I’d be in an absolute panic that I’d choose the wrong way and mess the whole thing up. I’d feel just sick, and my gut would be twisting with anxiety-eels. (An hour and a half hard cycling in the morning, and a glass or glasses of wine in the evening helped.)

    But with the fear was also that exhilarating thrill of potential that a story has at the outset which is totally addictive.

    You’ve inspired me to get back at it – (I’ve had to concentrate on my painting lately for financial reasons) – but I’m going to dive back in this week. I’m at an all or nothing point with it, and have to finish it up.

    Good luck with Fierce – I’m sure it will find its place.
    Can’t wait to read it.

    1. Lynn,
      I’m happy if this post has helped you overcome your trepidation and glad you’re going to dive back in. Getting 50K tough words down is such an achievement.
      I think with the books that mean more than usual to us, we are afraid of messing it up by making the wrong choices but we have to remember that there really aren’t any wrong choices. As long as it is true to the story we can choose to tell it in many different ways.
      Good luck with yours!
      And by the way, I love your paintings! They are beautiful! I’m a big fan of Robilee Frederick. Do you know of her? She does (or did when I saw her work) abstract naturalist paintings. Sort of the fine art version of Mary Oliver’s paintings to me, and she plays with light a lot. From what I’ve seen, I like yours as much.

      1. Thanks for your feedback on the paintings, Jo!

        I didn’t know of Frederick’s work, but I googled her – wonderful stuff. (Thank you for the very flattering comparison!) As I was looking through her site, I noticed a series of paintings which feature circles – which was as hoot, as my latest has a huge circle smack-dab in the centre of it.

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