I’m scared!

Stress Meter On Laptop Showing Panic AttackI’m not quite at the stage of a panic attack, but I’m definitely stressed and anxious.

Why? Has someone been hurt? A fire? A break-in?

Okay – put in those terms, to say I’m scared is melodramatic. But I certainly feel nervous and unsettled and was awake in the night worrying.

The cause? For the first time in nearly two months I’ve got the time and opportunity to write. My foot is better. I’ve got a break in my travels. I’m motivated. The next chapter is planned. But I’m scared to start.

I know the remedies – I’ve given them to students often enough! Don’t worry about the quality of the writing – just write. Don’t get it right – get it down. You know you’ll have to rewrite anyway. Give yourself permission to write rubbish. A few words is better than no words. Oh yes, the advice is the easy bit.

Perhaps it’s because I’m up to chapter 13. But no, I’m not superstitious so that’s clutching at straws. Perhaps it’s because I had a particularly negative critique on a previous chapter. But no, I’m made of sterner stuff than that. Perhaps it’s because it’s because I don’t believe in the novel myself. Ah, that’s a more serious one, but something I won’t know until I’ve written more of it. Perhaps it’s because I’ve reached 40,000 words – the number that often marks a wall for writers.

Perhaps I’m wasting time searching for reasons when I should just get on and do it. I will. I’m going to start now. But the sun is shining – perhaps I should hang the washing out first …

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12 Comments

  1. Hi Lindsay,
    This made me smile. Perhaps it’s because you’ve had a really nice time on holiday, and doing other things, and you’ve remembered that writing is work and that it’s actually far nicer to not work 😉
    Write your blurb instead. That will be so tedious and impossible (I’m trying to write one just now) that you’ll soon run screaming back to your lovely novel.
    Jo x

  2. 40k words..? …. Well, there is no going back now…… That is half a book my dear, so go and hang the washing out and then get some more words down. And write another bit…..somewhere in the book you haven’t yet been ….the lily pad method I call it…jumping aroundn in a non chronological fashion, to events or incidents that haven’t yet happened but the ones that happen to interest you. As you say, you can work out the connections later! It might dislodge something. And of course you will re write and change the order of things ….. But don’t lose sleep over it. Or try writing a poem about something in the book???? Cheers Becky Gethin

  3. Lindsay says:

    I agree – it’s nicer not to work. But I’ve been tearing my hair out for weeks at not having the chance to write and now the moment is here … I could try the blurb, but think that will send me screaming for mercy, so yes, perhaps the novel is a doddle in comparison. Good luck with your blurb.

  4. Lindsay says:

    You’re right, Becky, there is no going back, but can I go forward? Not sure the lily pad method works for me – although I love the image! – and sadly, I don’t have your poetic talent, so I’ll have to knuckle down to the prose. Hang on, I’ve just remembered a phone call I’ve got to make …

  5. lynne says:

    Pick a setting from the chapter and see how well you can describe it

  6. Lindsay says:

    Good advice, Lynne. I have started the chapter, although progress is slow. But it’s a start!

  7. Polly says:

    What good advice you’re getting ~ now all you have to do is select the one that appeals and go for it ~ alternatively, you could just get on and write it … rearrange this well-known phrase or saying: petard hoist … and I don’t recall the other word! 😉 x

  8. Lindsay says:

    Yes, it’s all good stuff, Polly. Useful tips for anyone trying to resolve an impasse. The quote is from Hamlet – something like ‘Hoist with his own petard’! Are you saying I need to take my own advice?!

  9. lisa carey says:

    thank you lindsay for posting this on the very same day that I suddenly felt very scared, too. I’m 2 months into a 7-month ‘time for writing’ space, by the end of which I plan to have completed my first novel. I had written 38,000 words, decided I didn’t have enough of a plot, took a couple of weeks to mull over plot, characters, etc; and now I feel I’m almost ready to start writing again. And as that ‘start’ moment approaches I have been overwhelmed by a huge fear. Like you, I know some strategies for continuing. But they don’t take away the feelings of terror, and maybe nothing can. Perhaps fear is an inevitable part of creating something ‘big’ – like stage fright before a great performance. The trick, I guess, is how to make friends with one’s fear so it becomes not paralysis but something enlivening. (Still working on this…)

  10. Lindsay says:

    Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling too, Lisa, and I’m pleased my post might have helped you feel less alone. I like your point that fear is part of the process, something potentially stimulating. Out of difficult situations, good things often emerge. Let’s hope so, in both our cases. Let me know how you get on.

  11. Derek Taylor says:

    Wish I could offer an easy answer, Lindsay. But I’m sure the urge and the art will return. Remember the old Jewish saying (which must be the ultimate truth, most shocking and encouraging at the same time) – This too shall pass.

  12. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Derek. Don’t think there is an easy answer. I’ve got to grit my teeth and write even if it’s a struggle. Eventually it will get easier.

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