I haven’t been a published author very long, just a little over six months at this point. If you had told me even I year ago that I would have published not one, but two books, I would’ve looked at you skeptically and probably walked away.
Let me share a bit of backstory with you. I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I don’t even remember learning how to read and I know that I’ve been writing for just as long. Now, I can’t look back at my early stories without rolling my eyes and groaning a bit. They were basically one long run-on sentence with very little in the way of grammar. Still, I am fond of those early attempts because they show my love of writing.
However, when I was fifteen, I completed my first novel. It was my pride and joy and I had spent countless hours working on it. Filled with youthful surety and confidence as only a teenager can be, I sent my manuscript out in search of a publisher. Unfortunately, I fell into the trap of a vanity publisher. After waiting months to hear back, I was told that they could indeed publish my manuscript, for the hefty sum of $4,000. Needless to say, I was crushed. Afterwards, I stopped showing my writing to anyone. I didn’t stop writing, but I stopped sharing it with anyone, including my family.
It’s been over a decade since that happened. I set aside my dream of becoming an author and pursued other goals. I finished college, became a librarian and then an entrepreneur, traveled overseas, and even have started the journey to becoming a black belt. But I still felt empty inside, unfulfilled. And despite everything, I never stopped writing. Some stories were good, some not so much, but I couldn’t deny the urge to write. Last year, I got fed up with hiding and decided to go big. I wrote my first novel in just under a month and published it. It was one of the most exhausting things that I’ve ever done, but I had never felt so alive and satisfied.
So now that I’ve practically written another novel in this post, what does all of this have to do with facing your fears? I want to share with you what I’ve learned and hopefully some tricks that will help your overcome your fears.
1) Embrace your uniqueness
Now this may seem patently obvious, but please bear with me. So many times when we’re writing something, fear loves to whisper in our ears. We start to doubt ourselves, what makes us qualified to write something? Who are we to think think that we have something special to say? Why do we think we can put a new spin on something that’s been written about a hundred times before? But the truth is, we can show something new, something unique. People see the world differently. Ten people can see the exact same situation and then tell you ten entirely different versions of the event. No one can see the story like you can. And when you stay true to yourself, that genuineness will draw others to you and your writing. So don’t try to be what’s popular or mainstream. Be yourself and tell your story your way. That’s what people really want to see.
2) Staring down the blank page
For me, the hardest part of any story is starting. You’ve had a story running around in your brain for weeks. Your characters have become your constant companions, whispering their stories into your ear day and night. So you pull out a pen and paper or sit down at the computer and…. nothing. Your characters have fled into the ether and all you’re left with is a gnawing in your gut and sweaty palms. The blinking cursor seems to be growing ever larger, mocking you with the pristine whiteness of the page. This moment can be pivotal, as you can either walk away or gut through it. Don’t give in to the blank page fears, your story deserves to be told. So take a deep breath and shove aside the worries about having the perfect hook and first chapter. All of that will come later. Right now, just start writing. It doesn’t even have to be the story line. Describe a character, write a scenery element, describe one of your characters favorite foods. Once you get words on the page, even if it’s only a handful, the fear of the blank page will magically diminish. Your characters will cautiously creep back and before you know it, they will be as loud and insistent as ever, wanting their story told right.
This is one of the biggest fears of any writer. I can literally tear my work apart, criticize it until I’m to paralyzed, until I can’t write anything at all. In fact, I’m the hardest critic of my work. What you need to learn to do is turn off the inner critic. Instead, just write. Write the whole story. When you reread to clarify the story in your mind, turn off your inner editor and just focus on the story. Instead let the story flow and write until it’s done. There will be time to go back and edit, time to go back and fix all of the small mistakes, but don’t take away the joy of writing by focusing on making it exactly right. That will come later. And truthfully? Most of what seems glaringly obvious to you, other people will not see at all.
Have fun. So many people think that writers are chained to their desks, scribbling or typing feverishly. They are stereotyped as being odd, super introverted, having weird quirks. While this is maybe true for a few, for the vast majority it is simply not. Authors tend to be fully engaged in life, always looking for something new, something that they can take and share with others through their books. They have stories that they want to share because they add color and joy to their lives. So live each day to the fullest, engage with the world around you, because you never know what you will find that will be worth sharing.
I really appreciate being invited to join in this blog hop by Author Toolbox. If you want to learn more check it out here:
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Also, I would like to share real briefly, I just released the second book in my series The Seeker Files yesterday. If you would like to check it out, you can find it here: In Search of Healing: Seeker Files bk 2
Happy Wednesday Everyone!