Friday, March 4, 2011

Defying Writing Stage Fright

In the midst of doing major revisions to my firstborn manuscript, I came to a realization:  I'm terrified to write anything else.

I actually have three other WIP's at the moment, 2 "new adult" (I HATE that term) and one young adult.  But I'm hitting that brick wall again, the one where I realize I've spent a year writing and editing and editing and editing and - ahem, sorry - and polishing my first ms, only to be exactly nowhere.  I am no closer to scoring an agent or a publishing deal than I was nearly a year ago, when I woke up from the freaky dream that inspired me to sit down and write for the first time in eons.

I keep asking myself, why should I bother?  What if this never amounts to anything more than a silly hobby?  Though, truthfully, it's more like a silly obsession.  I think about my characters all the time.  I hear their conversations in my head constantly.  I can write a kissing scene on command.  But does that make me dedicated, or just crazy?

I've  mentioned before that I write in my downtime at work, and today I had a nice chunk of it between four and five.  But- I froze.  Since the major part of my revisions are behind me on WIP # 1, I made a plan to work on WIP #3 today, should the opportunity arise.  Well arise it did, and I totally squandered it.  I just couldn't make myself start typing.  The click of the keys sounded strangely like wasteoftimeyousuckandsodoesthisstory.  I totally clammed up.

Now, I could kick myself.  I wasn't worried about any of these things when I wrote my first story.  All I thought about was getting it down on paper before it left my head for good. I was in total Defying Gravity mode, and I shouldn't let anything stop me from being there again.  Easier said than done, unfortunately. 

Lucky for me, I have the Glee version of Defying Gravity on my Ipod.  It came on as I was cooking dinner tonight, and the moment I heard those first lines, Something has changed within me/Something is not the same/I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game, my determination came back with a vengeance.

How could I have been so foolish?  I can't give up now!  I've only just begun!  So what if I spent a year writing something that might suck to high Heaven?  Take what you've learned and DO BETTER NEXT TIME!

Because the truth is, I have learned so much already, and I have changed.  I used to wake up in a terrible mood every morning because I hated being stuck in a corporate job, hated feeling like my life had no purpose and I had no outlet except journals filled with whiny, self-pitying entries.  Since I've started writing again, I feel like I'm back in my element.  I've started tapping into creative parts of me that I'd let run dry for far too long.  I look forward to blogging and reading other people's blogs and interacting with all these great people who love the same things I love: reading and writing.  I can honestly say I'm a happier person.  My husband notices that I wake up smiling some mornings.  (Some, not all.  I've never been a morning person, so let's not get carried away.)  A year ago, it wouldn't have happened at all.  Nor would I have dared to let someone read my work, which now I've actually done.

So tomorrow, if I find myself facing a brick wall again, I'm going to get on top of it, close my eyes, and leap, just like the song says.  Just in case anyone else needs it, here it is.  You will never be told to go for it in a more eloquent or inspiring manner than this!

But I'd love to know- what do you do when you find yourself facing a brick wall?


  1. i have LOOAADDSS of these kind of moments, too. like, so many times while im writing, ill just be like, what the hell am i doing wasting my time with this? and thats kind of why im not writing these days, to get my head straight, to firmly root it in my head that ill now be writing only for myself and for no one else. which might sound strange, but its kind of the only way. worrying about what other people will think will only get you so far, you know?

  2. I'm with you! I am languishing in stage fright as we speak--trying to force myself though editing the ugly middle. I try to remind myself that writing isn't about me. I owe a duty to my characters to get their story out, and I'm the only one that can accomplish that task. They need me to exist, and they appreciate my struggles.

  3. Firt of all THREE manuscripts since you began writing seriosly a year ago?? Do you know how awesome that is?!?! Not everyone can say that ya know :-) I have those moments all the time. I walk away for awhile but always, always came back! Hang in there, you!