When Fear of "Not Doing It Right" Stops You Cold

I've put off writing for years.

I've kissed novels good bye for the simple reason of being too scared of not doing the "writing" thing right.

Even now, I have days that I am stopped dead in my tracks by my fear of screwing this thing up. And I've signed up for a pretty huge event. I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. That would be National Novel Writing Month, for those who've never heard of this madness.

And, I do believe you have to be a little mad to do NaNo. It's 50,000 words in 30 days.

First draft. Not revising something you've already done.

I'm working backwards on another novel that I want to have drafted before the beginning of November, and I'm almost half-way done with it. But I am discovering the benefits to having characters and settings well planned before drafting. Trying to write about a fantasy world with characters who withhold precious information about themselves without really defining some of these things can be tricksy, and often sticky. I know there will be a lot of revising after the NaNo novel is done, but that's okay. I'm writing.

sage wolfsong blog graphic how to slay the dragons that stop creativity

One of those quotes that will eventually become a wallpaper on my computer, and probably find its way to my office wall is from my darling friend Allie McCormack: You can't edit what you don't write. Oh, my dear Allie... I will have SO much editing when this draft is done.

sage wolfsong blog graphic you can't edit what you don't write

It's horrible writing.

It's book one of three.

It's horrible writing.

But it's writing. And it's getting written. I can go back and doctor it, fix the inconsistencies, add the details and swap out words for stronger, more well-developed phrases later.

Right now, I'm writing.

I've been given permission to write crap, as long as I am writing.

Even when I feel like crap, and I'm in the grip of a migraine, I try to get out my pen and notebook, and scratch out a scene or two. Even if it's only note about some important thread of the story, like the religion in my fantasy novel, I do something. It's a devotional practice.

I'm adding on to those 10,000 hours that they say it takes to master a skill. At an hour a day, I should be quite skilled indeed by the time I'm in my 80's. And when I think about that, I have to resist the urge to kick myself for waiting so damn long to get started. It drives me when my daughter says she has a new novel idea she wants to write (she's 11), and I encourage her to get busy writing it down. I find little things that can help her add up those hours now, and try to share what I learn as I learn it.

We're story-tellers after all, her and I. It's what we do.


*This post originally appeared on one of my old blogs, on Oct. 3, 2016. I will be moving the blog posts over there to sagewolfsong.com gradually.*

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