Today we welcome the lovely Rose McClelland, sharing tactics for dealing with a writer’s fears.
“I just don’t have the time to write” …. and other excuses masking FEAR
“I don’t have the time to write”
“I should’ve started writing in my twenties, there’s no point now”
“It would take me too long to write a novel so I should just concentrate on my day job instead”
“People like me don’t become published authors – that dream only happens to other people”
These were all the excuses I gave myself. The notion “I want to write” hammered away at me for years but I successfully batted off the desire with these nifty excuses. Clever, huh?
It wasn’t until a friend shoved a copy of “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron into my hands and told me “we are going to study this 12 week course” that things began to change.
What’s the point?
I discovered, through a series of tasks and tools, that my excuses were just that – excuses – and the real problem was fear.
“What’s the point?” is a clever mask for fear or resentment.
• What would my father think of me?
• What if he read the sexy scenes and was appalled?
• What would the blokes at work think?
• Would I have to write under a pen name?
• I’m not very outgoing or confident – how would I promote my book via Facebook or twitter or god forbid, newspapers and the wider media circle?
• What if I got bad reviews?
The first thing I learned was that those fears show a pretty active imagination. Projecting that far into the future and visualising such strong negative images shows that, in-fact, there’s a good healthy writer’s mind ticking away in there. Now how do I turn those negative visualisations into positive ones?
I learned that as a blocked artist, I was not lazy – I was blocked. In fact, I was using a lot of energy worrying, feeling guilty, feeling jealous and doubting myself. I learned that it would be easier to just do the writing than waste the time worrying that I wasn’t doing the writing. It was easier to get on with it.
I took small steps. And I made those steps enjoyable. I found a coffee shop I liked – one which had an upstairs section which was quiet and tucked away from the hustle bustle. It overlooked a water fountain and had comfy sofas. I settled myself down with an Americano and a sparkling water and I began to play with ideas. A scene here, a scene there. One scene at a time. Pretending I was in the audience watching the characters. Having fun. Enjoying myself.
It wasn’t a chore, or a hurdle, or a massive mountain to climb, it was fun. On a Saturday and a Sunday morning, it was my writing fun time.
List the fears and resentments
I was honest with myself. I listed my fears and resentments about doing this project. I asked myself “why is there no point?” I put it down in black and white. This is not an easy task to do. No-one wants to admit those negative thoughts that are swilling around in your sub-conscious. But on the plus side, once those negative thoughts are down on paper, you can look at them for what they really are – just thoughts. They are not facts.
Jealousy is a map
One thing I have learned is that jealousy is a map. If you are looking at someone who has just got published and you find a stirring of jealousy within your gut and a tightening in your head; that is a sign. A sign that you want that thing. And there is nothing stopping you from going after it. Who do you know who has had a book published? How can you learn from what they have done? Read their blog; find out how they went about it. Once I started to admit I needed help, the help landed in my lap.
Now you know what you want, start to visualise having it. Write in the present tense as if you already have it. Find images surrounding your dream and pin them on a board. I wrote “published author” in bubbly colourful writing.
Did you have any negative affirmations about your dream? Perhaps you secretly saw creative people as disorganised or chaotic. Start to realise that it’s possible that you as a creative soul can be organised, helpful, kind and giving.
Set yourself goals – for this year, this month, this week.
“By this time next year I would like to __________”
“By this time next month I would like to _________”
“By this time next week I would like to _________”
“What small action could I take today?_____________________”
Now do that thing.
By the way, my dad did read my book – he skimmed over the first chapter, lowered his glasses, looked at my mum and said, “I don’t really think this would be my kind of book, love”. And that was that, nothing more was said. The blokes at work have never commented on my book, except for one who asked, “What chapter can I skip to for the sex scenes?” And my agent encouraged me to write under my real name, not a pen name. “Shout it from the roof-tops!” she said. And that’s exactly what I’ve done.
Huge thanks to Rose for these words of wisdom – now, over to the rest of you; how do you combat your own writing fears?