Into the Void, by John 'K' / Courtesy of flickr

When Writing Scares Me

There comes a time in every writing project when I get scared. And it’s not at the end. No, it’s usually just over halfway through, before I can really even start thinking about an ending. I don’t often anticipate it even though it happens every time. I get to a point in my project, in this case a novel, when I hit a wall and start to think and doubt and wonder if I’d just be better off scrapping the entire thing and starting something new.

Every time this happens, I have to push myself through it. I have to focus on what’s on the other side of this terrifying void. I have to stop and say, “Sarah, this is ridiculous, you’re having fun, you’re enjoying this, this is good, you’re doing really, really well, and you’re over halfway there, and it’s a good thing, and please, please, please don’t lose steam now.”

But I do lose steam. It’s a struggle to find the right words. My daily writing goes from 1K or more to 0. Then I start skipping days. Once I start skipped days, I know it’s really bad. Because a habit forms only with consistency, and if I stop writing, stop that consistent meeting of a word count goal or a scene written goal, then the habit stops being habitual. I take too many days off and that’s when I really think, well, this is the end. You’ll never make it now. Might as well take a break and pick up later with something new.

No. I can’t let myself do that. It wasn’t until this time around, when I broke 40K and realized I was over halfway through to the end, that I equated my pause, my hesitancy, to fear.

What am I really afraid of? Rejection is the obvious. Finishing another novel and once again being rejected over and over again for it. The thought that this will be another 70K words, months of time and revising, my heart and soul poured into something … for what? Just to move it aside and start all over again. But also fear of what this book means. Is it boring? Does it work? Is it worth the time and energy I’m spending on it? Once I put in that final period, I’m afraid to say I’ll have to start back at the beginning and do my major revisions and edits. That’s a scary thought. It’s scary to think how many more months I’ll dedicate to this one before I move on to something else.

Okay, I’ll just admit it – this is what scares me the most about writing: the thought that no one will ever care about my work except the family and friends I force it upon. The thought that I won’t ever be published. The thought that I will never walk into a bookstore or a library and see my book on the shelf. The thought that I will be writing stories for the rest of my life that will never be read.

And every single time I’m making good headway on a new project, that’s what hits me like a ton of bricks, and I just want to stop. But I don’t let myself. Because I really love writing, even if I fear it.

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