Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Are you scared?

I didn't know what Danielle was going to write about yesterday, but after reading her post, she mentions what I wanted to talk about today:

Writing is scary.

I'm not going into all the stuff about publishing and so on. That, I'm sure, can be scary too. What I'm talking about is just writing a story.

Sounds simple right? Write a story. Get those thoughts down on paper (or the computer). But it's not, is it? It's SO MUCH MORE.

I always thought that the more I write, the more I learn and know about the craft, and how to hone my skills as a writer, the easier it will be to sit down at my computer and just type away. Just get those words down and weave them into this beautiful story.

But writing is scary. And I'm not sure that's ever going to change for me. Yes, I know how to write better than when I started, but that doesn't change the scariness factor for me as I thought it would.

My first story scared me because, well, it was my first! The first time I seriously thought I wanted to write A BOOK. The first time I let myself dream of being published. The first time I thought about spending my future as an author if I ever got the opportunity.

Then I started writing my next manuscript. And my next. And they didn't get any easier. They still scared me. Each one. Every time. (I'm pretty sure it will always be like this with my writing. And I'm okay with that because, for me, I know that if I'm a little [or a lot] scared, then that means I'm pushing myself as a writer. That's not to say this is the case for everyone though.)

And now, I'm working on a contemporary manuscript. And it terrifies me. I love contemporaries, but have always been afraid of writing them. I mean, essentially it's making up a story that could happen to a real person and making it interesting enough for a reader to stick with it for several hours (or days). I can't just kill someone or blow something up in this story if I feel like it. I don't have some otherworldy hook to this story.

In it's simplest form, it's just a story about a girl with a younger brother that has autism.

Cue, freak-out number two for me. (Now, I work with children with autism so I know the subject matter pretty well. But....) I am TERRIFIED of not doing this story justice. Of failing to show the intricacies of autism and how this little boy in my story is unique and the same as any other kid all at the same time. I'm scared of not properly showing how this disorder *can* affect a family. I'm worried about it sounding belittling or heavyhanded. Of so many things.

This is just specific to me and the current story I'm working on, but I'm sure others of you out there feel the same way, right? (Please say yes. B/c it's hard to put myself out there like this, only to find out I'm alone?! Oh noes!)

So what do you do when you feel scared or terrified of what you're writing. Or of writing in general?

For me, I take encouragement where I get it. And I don't doubt what those people are saying, either. Their little words of encouragement are what get me through the hard parts. In fact, I entered the first few pages of this ms onto an online writing conference (WriteOnCon) and I got an incredibly encouraging comment from one of the ninja agents on there. (I hope this doesn't come off braggy b/c that's not my intent) Anyway, ya know what I did with that comment? I put in on a digital post-it note on my computer background. That way, anytime I feel discouraged (or distracted even) I can read it and remember why I'm writing this story even when it scares me.

So, does the story you're writing scare you? What do you do to overcome that? Any tips or tricks to share?


  1. I have a book that deals heavily with Social Services laws. I was so scared of getting the details wrong I literally skipped over all the lawyer scenes and wrote in parentheses (THEY CALL DARLA HERE) or (DARLA SHOWS UP TO TALK TO THEM ABOUT THE CASE). But, you're right. I didn't have to worry about something exactly like that in my paranormal. If something is wrong you can kinda just shrug and go, "well, that's the way it works in MY world." :p

    Doesn't mean it's not still terrifying though. ;)

  2. I know exactly what you mean. I haven't tried writing a contemporary yet, but writing sci-fi is hard. I'm stressing out right now over worldbuilding. Is it enough? Did I explain things so that the reader understands what I'm talking about? Does it sound too weird? Little stuff like that. ;)

    And I can PROMISE you, your ms is fantastic! You have nothing to worry about!

  3. You are not alone! I get scared all the time.

  4. I love this post! You're definitely not alone. I'm still working on my first MS and I've been scared to write more times than not. That's not to say I don't enjoy writing, because I absolutely do enjoy it. The enormity of it is a huge weight to carry, though. I think having excellent people to encourage you is great and I find I get a strange urge to write MORE when my friends who read for me give encouragement, compliments, and even when they are critical of certain parts. On that same note, it's almost scarier after I get praise because now I know I have expectations to live up to. But still...there are lots of things we do every day that are scary, right? I, personally, find driving with the other lunatics on the road to be pretty scary, yet I still do it.