Got the fear . . .


I’ve been working my way through Holly Lisle’s How To Think Sideways course, and it is an absolutely cracker. Holly is a legend for doing this, and I’m learning so much, it’s absolutely blowing me away. More’s to the point, it doesn’t feel like work.

Until yesterday, when it got to the point where I had to do some actual writing. Just one scene, but new writing. Not editing, not planning, not character sketches. Writing.

I immediately segued out of the ‘Sere’ novel, because I don’t want to get involved with that just yet, I’m saving it for Nano lunacy (although it is all plotted out and pretty much good to go now, for a seat-of-the-pants writer like me, any way). So I switched instead to a short story I’ve been incubating for a while . . . but of course, I couldn’t just start in on that without using “the technique”. So, I went back a couple of lessons, went through it all again – enormously pleased that it felt pretty intuitive and came back to hand quite easily – until I reached a point this evening when that story, too, is very neatly plotted out and ready to go.

And that’s when I realised I’d got the fear.

I couldn’t actually make myself open up Roughdraft and start typing. Even if it was only an experiment, even if it’s only a first draft bash through to see what shape it will take. I just couldn’t do it.

Horrific! I must write. I need to write, but I’m too scared to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) ~ why? Why now, when I’m better equipped than ever before to produce something of high quality? Why now, when in the past I’ve happily just mainlined words? Why now, when I’ve been able to set my “self” aside and just connect absolutely with the story and stream it direct from subconscious to page?

It’s strange, but I found myself thinking of Bellaboo today in her baby-gymnastics class. Obviously, they’re not doing handsprings or vaults or the like, but they are getting familiar with the equipment, and it does wonders for their confidence. Today, Bellaboo went on the beam for the first time. They put a wedge over it, which doubles it’s width, but it’s full height. She went up quite happily with me holding her waist, and took a few steps. And then she froze. I think she realised that a) she was higher up than mummy and b) it really wasn’t very wide. She stood there a while, holding onto my hands, and I thought she was going to ask to come down . . . but she didn’t, and with a little encouragement she walked all the way to the end and I jumped her down onto the mat. She was so pleased with herself, I swear she grew a couple of inches right there.

I think that’s where I am right now. I’ve taken a good few steps along the beam, and I’ve suddenly realised how high up it is, how far it is to the end, and that there’s not much room for manoevre if I lose my balance.

So, I have the options:

  1. give up and get down
  2. stay here frozen
  3. put the next foot forward regardless and just do it anyway

I believe option 3 is the one I want. So, working on the old adage – “Bring the body, and the mind will follow” – tomorrow I will put the timer on for 10 minutes and just do it.


2 Responses to “Got the fear . . .”

  1. Good luck! Sounds like you know what to do.

    I found I couldn’t do as much preparation as Holly suggested. I think I only wrote about 5 index cards and then just jumped in. It seemed the more preparation I did, the more I had invested in the story — that “this is such a good idea I don’t want to wreck it” feeling. Fortunately I had Nano to force me to start writing.

    • Yes, it’s tricky to get the balance right, not to get too bogged down in detail. Once I actually got down to it and worked the story off the notecards, I ended up with a 20k+ stonker (that will need some drastic editing to make it saleable in any way shape or form) out of 11 notecards. What worked well for me was that the main arc and conflicts were all in place, so there was little in the way of staring into space wondering what to do next – a couple of nights I wrote over 4k words in a couple of hours, and my average was double what I’d done before at over 2.6k per session (usually 2.5-3hrs). The timer helped too – by the time the ten minutes (a nice, manageable time) was up, I was well into it and couldn’t imagine what the issue was . . .

      d’oh! as they say, JFDI . . .

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