On Writing, prt. 3: Frustration and Anger

So the anxiety of this morning has turned to anger and frustration. The words won’t come out and, when they do, they feel awkward and strained. I know what I want to say but I do not know how to say it. I believe I am in this place as a direct result of reading back over everything this morning and hating it. I keep hearing that same voice that I hated this morning in what I write today and I am now self-conscious. This keeps me from accepting the words that are presenting themselves to me today and causes me to wrestle with new ways of saying what I haven’t even discovered I want to say yet.

The solution? Keep writing. And not only this, but keep writing down whatever comes to me. It is a first draft and, as Anne Lamott has observed, “first drafts always suck.” Perhaps I need to adjust my attitude. I need to stop thinking about writing this awesome book and just settle into writing a sucky first draft. Then perhaps I won’t be as angry and frustrated with myself when I write something that seems to suck.

Lesson: I cannot write a great book. What I can do is write a sucky first draft. In fact I’ll bet I can write the suckiest first draft that has ever been written.

Whew. I feel so much better now.

Back to it.

On Writing, prt. 2: Fear Still

Preparing to go write for the day. Yesterday went great and I got chapter 1 finished (19 pages). Great fear again today that I once again have to face somehow. The problem is that I sat down to read everything I have written so far and suddenly I’m not sure I like it. Any of it. Yesterday I thought it was amazing.

Bottom line: I can’t tell whether it’s good or not. I’m too close to it. Stare at yourself in the mirror for long enough and you won’t see your face any more — only everything that’s wrong with it.

The solution to all of this — start writing. Stop worrying.

Okay, the worrying part just comes with the territory to some degree. But I can write. I cannot control the outcome. The fate of this book will be decided by people other than me and that has always been the case. Move through doubt, through laziness, through procrastination, through anxiety and fear, through ANYTHING. JUST MOVE!

On Writing, prt. 1: Facing Fear

feet on edge of cliff overlooking river

Photo from Flickr used under Creative Commons license, by epSos.de

I had not planned on blogging at all during this time when I am supposed to be finishing up my book. However, just before I sat down today to begin writing in earnest, I became aware of deep feelings of fear. And I realized that this is part of the process. I never fear writing a blog post because so little is at stake. What if a post “fails”? Then it receives fewer hits than others. But what if my book fails, into which I have greatly invested myself, along with hopes and dreams that I cannot help but connect to it? If that fails, I have lost something, or it feels that way.

If I fail to blog about this process, I think my readers will lose out a great deal. We all have hopes and dreams which we deeply desire to see become reality, but which strike deep fears into us as well. They get to the heart of our insecurities somehow. So I will, from time to time, write a few words about how I am feeling as I sit down to write for the day. Today is nothing but intense fear. What if I fail? What if I write something terrible? Worse yet, what if I write something I know to be excellent, but no one (particularly an agent or publisher) accepts it? What if — well, all my fears begin with “what if.” And where have those what-ifs gotten me so far? Exactly to where I am currently with my writing. Which of course is nowhere.

And so I sit down to write today not because I have already conquered my fears, but because I am no longer going to allow my fears to conquer me. And if learning to face my deepest fears is ultimately all that comes from this process, I emerge the victor in the end. And not only in the end, but in each and every moment where I ignore my pounding heart and the swish of blood rushing in my ears to type one more letter, one more word, one more paragraph, one more page.

Question: What dreams of yours have you been afraid to pursue? Will you step forward with  me? Will you set your hand to the plow and do the work?