Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Writing FearBusters!

To get rid of writing fear, you have to walk the path
Little Red Riding Hood got scared when she walked through the woods. That makes sense - the woods are a scary place to be. But in order to overcoming writing fear, you have to walk through the scary woods. You have to look fear square in the eye and say, "I don't care about you, fear. Writer's block is a myth. My own fears are a myth. I am here." And, so you go.

 I help clients of all kinds with all levels of writing. The biggest issue that all of those clients have is the same one that a lot of professional writers have. Fear. (If you don't think Stephen King occasionally shivers a little when he looks at a blank piece of paper, you've got another think coming.)

Fear can do a lot of things. It can stop you from putting your pen to paper. It can stop you from writing your very first word of a story. It can stop you from speaking up. It can keep you stranded in one part of the woods, so that you never reach grandmother's house.

The most effective visual for the danger of fear? Look at your favorite pile of books. Go on. Collect them from all the corners of your house and arrange them into a neat little pile on the floor.

Fluffy the cat or Spot the dog may sniff at it, warily eyeing it, or they may knock into it. Don't worry about it. Just focus on that beloved stack of books. (If you're not a reader - but if you want to be a writer, you really should be - then do this exercise with a pile of favorite movies.)

Look at them. Remember all the words, the characters, the plotlines that dragged you from your life and into the world of Book (or of Movie).

Now, imagine them gone, just quietly disappearing like Marty McFly in the photo of his family from Back to the Future. Poof. The book spines are becoming less visible. They're gone now.

If all of your favorite writers had succumbed to fear, that's what would have happened. Nothing to read because the writers became afraid.

Doesn't that sound sad?

To get rid of fear, please:

* Write a little bit every day. Writing is very good for the soul.
* If you're the type who worries about grammar, then don't. Stop. Don't worry about commas until I tell you to.
* Keep going until you are done. Write at least 100 words a day. Everyone can do 100 words. I don't care where you start, but you must start. The longer you wait to start, the more your future book incubates.
* Worry about grammar or punctuation when you are done. Not before. Why? Because it's easy to get so obsessed with fear about grammar or how we're wording something that we forget to really let go. I promise you, J. K. Rowling was not worrying about where to put a comma when she wrote the sentence, "Harry knew, he was certain, that there was hardly any time left in which to beat Voldemort to his goal, or else to attempt to thwart him" (HP and the Deathly Hallows, p.92, hardback). I'm speaking for the world's most popular children's book author just a tiny bit here, but I'm willing to bet that she wasn't worrying about punctuation when she wrote that line. I'm also willing to bet that you weren't thinking about commas when you read it. No, she focused on commas after.
* Let yourself go. It's escape time. Let yourself create and write it down. Be vibrant. Be thoughtful. Be you. Then, your readers can dream with you.

No comments: