Friday, August 17, 2012

The Writer's Bane

I found myself sitting in my office at work yesterday afternoon, trying to find anything to keep me occupied so I could continue to avoid a bid that a potential customer was waiting on.  I had no particular reason not to want to finish this bid.  Technically speaking, the work was simple.  Yet there was this part of me, deep down, that wanted to avoid this project like the plague.  Procrastination held a firm grip over me.

Have you ever been there, as a writer?

On November 29th, 2011, I validated my NaNoWriMo manuscript at 50,059 words.  I was sitting at Barnes and Noble that evening, and I wanted nothing more than to jump up in the middle of the coffee shop and scream at the top of my lungs, "I did it!"  However, I reined myself in, afraid of being banned from one of my favorite writing locales.

The feeling of success, sheer elation, washed over me.  I told myself I'd spend the next two days on a short hiatus, picking up where I'd left off on December 1st.  My best friend, and one of my biggest advocates as a writer, even offered an incentive to complete the book before his wedding on December 30th.

I didn't touch the book again until late June, and didn't actually add any writing to it until yesterday.

I wanted more than anything to pick up the book and write.  I had such a desire to reconnect with my characters that, at times, it felt nearly paralyzing as I wasted my time doing anything else but write.  Deep down, there was something stopping me, the same thing that stopped me for the past nine years since I graduated from college.  I'm still not sure that I can define what that something was, and still is, but the closest thing I can equate it to was...


Was I feeling fear of failure?  Or was I feeling fear of success?

I think the biggest obstacle to this process for me is the fear of change.  If my writing was horrible, I would quickly realize that the dream of becoming a professional writer was just that... a dream.  On the other hand, if my writing was very good, it might mean that I could become successful, and my life would change.  I've been happy in my small city with my wife and two kids, living a relatively routine life.  All of that would change if I became successful.

It's taken many months of reflection (and counseling) to come to terms with the simple fact that I can't live in a bubble, that I must not be afraid of change, but learn to embrace it, and deal with the consequences of that change as they arise.  I'm not even close to getting there, but I'm taking tiny steps in that direction.

How do you deal with the fear of failure, the fear of success?  What drives you to the keyboard (or pen and paper), instead of away from it?  I'd love to hear your own stories about this internal struggle.


  1. I so get it. Summer (and three kids) has been one big fat excuse to get behind. Sure, I could have made a plan and stayed afloat, but I let excuses (alright, fear!) get in the way. Bad thing about that, it starts to overcome and I forget the progress and only remember the excuses/fear.

    Congrats on NaNo. I've yet to do it, but I'm hoping to this year. We'll see. Life tends to laugh in my face when I sign up for a challenge.

    1. Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one. :)

      You should really try NaNo this year. It's a blast, even if you don't win. Just the rush of trying is worth it. I'll have a link to my NaNo profile on my blog page soon, so friend me if you sign up.


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