Afraid to Write

I’m putting this out there…

I’m afraid to try writing anything right now.

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Writing used to be my favorite thing to do. Then I started getting published. Don’t get me wrong; being published is awesome. I’m happy about it. I learned a lot about writing through the publishing process, by noting problems in my writing that editors frequently brought to my attention, by reading what others wrote, and just by writing, because the more you do something, the better you get at it.

(I still seem to have a problem with run-on sentences, though.)

The thing about learning to write better is it became a lot of pressure. With each subsequent book, I was afraid of doing it wrong. Even knowing that the first draft is meant for just getting the thoughts out of your head, I felt like I had to write the first draft as perfectly as possible, and had to edit the thing even more perfectly. That was a contributing factor, though not the primary one, to my difficulties in writing.

Now I’m at a place where the last book I submitted was rejected–for good reason; I can see the flaws in it now–and I’m struggling to write anything. I tried to fix the rejected book and got so bogged down in trying to write it better that I ended up giving up entirely on it. At least for now. I’ve been trying for the past several months to write a new book, one I thought I had plotted well enough to get it done. And last week, I reached the point where I realized it sucks. One of the characters isn’t presented the way I want him to be, and the plot is dragging. I’ve already done two major rewrites. To fix the problems I’m noticing with it now, I would have to scrap over 100 pages of writing and start the thing over from scratch. So for now, I’ve given up on that one as well.

I didn’t used to have this much trouble writing, and now it’s standing in the way of my willingness to try to write anything at all. I’m afraid of that struggle. I’m afraid that I’ll start writing something and have it go off the rails to the point that I can’t finish it. I’m afraid that whatever I write will suck. And feeling that fear is keeping me from even trying.

A couple of friends of mine have told me that I should just write, and not worry about what or how I’m writing. Just let the thoughts flow onto the page and see what happens. That’s easier said than done, but I am trying. It’s just hard on the days when I sit at the computer dreading typing that first word, because it means I’m putting myself back on the path of having to do it “right.”

One thought on “Afraid to Write

  1. I think all authors go through this, Jo. That voice of self-doubt is loud, grating and really obnoxious! When I feel like this, I go back and read through things that I’ve written, which I know are good. I was reading through something a few nights ago, and started laughing. I love when I find little gems in my books, things I’d forgotten. I have been writing, but I know it’s not quality. I’ve decided to allow myself to be less than stellar – just let it be – and keep trying. If you feel like it’s too much, step away for awhile. Read your other books, sit outside (if it’s not too cold) and let the sun clear your head. Read something else, binge on Netflix. (I seem to have the run-on problem too.) I have really enjoyed your books over the years. Oh, I found my Reality Shift shirt the other day. It have fallen off the hanger and was investigating the bottom of my closet. I was so pleased to find it. It made me think of you! Good luck!

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