The past two months were hectic. Bren and I moved to Hilversum and with that came a whole lot of work, which meant I barely had time to be doing what I should be doing as a writer; write. Now that we’ve settled here and most of the chores are done, I’ve been having trouble to get back into my writing groove for some reason and most of it has to do with one thing: Fear. Luckily there’s a solution for everything and I thought I’d share it with you, maybe it’ll help you too.
How to deal with fear when writing
Before we moved I had finished the first draft of my novel “Stempels” and I received feedback from several of my proofreaders. One of them said she hadn’t expected this type of novel from my hand, which seems logical, since what I wrote before this was a scifi trilogy which was a totally different type of story. Still, all the feedback I received was very valuable, but at the same time, it really got me good as well. A lot of questions went through my head:
- What if this manuscript isn’t good enough?
- Why did I even write this novel?
- Is it maybe too close to my heart?
- Will other people think it’s a good novel, or was this just stuff that I needed to get off my chest?
In other words, given all this time to think about it, my thoughts about the manuscript had turned into fear about it not being good enough. I think this happens to so many people who have written a novel and I hear about it quite often from other writers I know. Perhaps it is only a natural part of the process, especially if you are a perfectionist by heart (which I am not entirely, by the way)
Fear is not necessarily a bad thing, but how you act upon it may be good or bad. The doubts gnawing at you and whether or not your hard work is worth being read is always there. Whenever someone tells me they’ve read my book, I’m always anxious to find out whether they liked it or not and hope that they enjoyed reading it, of course. Knowing that your fear is probably totally unjustified is the first step to getting rid of it. After all, mindset is everything. 😉
Writing is work, so treat it like work
For me, writing feels like it’s something I have to do. Just like writing this blog and putting all my thoughts out there. The need to share them, hoping they might be of use to someone, or at least entertain the reader, that is why I write. Normally, when I was in the writing groove, I’d spend one hour after my office job writing, just as I am doing now when I’m writing this blog. But now I should spend that hour working on going through the feedback on my manuscript and I know I have been putting that off.
Having written a trilogy before, I know that this part always creeps up, but normally I don’t give it enough time to let it fester and just keep going with the flow. I’ve spoken with Bren about this and acknowledging the fear is always the first step. She assured me that the book is good and that I have no rational reason why I shouldn’t just continue. And that kind of hit home for me. I pushed through with my previous novels, so why can’t I seem to do it now? Well, it’s not just that creeping fear, although that did stop me from continuing.
When it comes to writing I’ll happily admit that I hate this part of the process of writing. I’ve told the story and now I have to go through it yet again (and again, and again, etc) to fix minor problems and smoothen out everything, rewriting passages, or just tidying up spelling mistakes. It really does feel like work and I’m a very lazy writer (I’d say person, but writers are in a category of their own). So it’s not just the fear I’m dealing with, it’s also knowing I just don’t like fixing the story that much. It’s the most boring part of the writing process and any writer who tells you they love this part is either a psychopath or a really passionate member of the grammar police.
Your work is important and someone might need it, or be helped by reading it
Now, I’ve always been grateful that my books have been published and I know it definitely isn’t so easy for everyone to get their book published, but there are always ways to get it printed and there’s one thing I always try to keep in the back of my mind when writing: “Your work is important and someone might need it, or be helped by reading it. So don’t quit, because of any fears you might have, or any massive bouts of procrastination. If you’re a writer, you write.” And that little peptalk helps, even if I have to say it to myself loudly, or have Bren say something similar to me when I’m in a bit of a rut like I am now. Just keep going and don’t stop, because books don’t write themselves and if you ever had the idea to write a book, better get started now, or you’ll regret not having done so and that’s the worst kind of regret you could possibly have. Regretting the things you haven’t done. Always keep that in mind!