You’ve got that scary feeling…

Hey there, new kid. You know that feeling when you’re about to start a new story?

That sense that you’re not prepared. That you’re never going to get the right story down and that the sentences will be all clunky and that your verbs will be weak and that there’s absolutely NO WAY that you’re going to make this story work.

Yeah. That feeling. The one that assails you the moment you face your first blank page.

Well… It never goes away. I’ve written for almost thirteen years now. I’ve finished… Two books to publishing standards, and five more rough drafts as well as four rewrites.

I’ve made all of those stories work except for one, and I’m working on it as soon as I put up this blog, because I now know what’s wrong with it.

But last night, I started working on my mystery project and… I spent about fourteen hours playing games, two watching t.v. one and a half sleeping… Yeah. You get the idea. The amount of time I actually spent writing was about an hour.

All because every time I wanted to start, that feeling hit me. And me, choosing terrible moments to be undyingly optimistic about my writing, assumed I could start when the feeling went away.

Needless to say, it didn’t. So by about 7 p.m. last night, I thought back to my previous drafts. With Doorways (the two publish quality books), I was all out terrified! I delayed starting by six months. SIX MONTHS. Because the thought of writing a story so epic and complex paralyzed me. ES, the book I’m writing yet again, has given me this feeling three times. Every time I tried to write it. With last year’s NaNo, I got such terrible cold feet on October 31st that I almost gave up before I started.

But you know what? Whether something takes me a day, a week, months or even years, I always start an idea I have. Because if I didn’t, nothing I ever wanted to write would get written, and my life would have been emptier for it.

So if you’re about to start a new story and that feeling hits you, just chill. But do work through it. Because the only way to make the feeling fade for long enough to finish a story is to actually start writing it. Any you know what? Most of the time, those fears are unfounded anyway.

What was the worst time you got hit by this feeling? How long did it take you to start writing?

By the way, I posted more details on my query, synopsis, first chapter critique at Unicorn Bell. So if you need a fresh pair of eyes, please do check it out. 🙂


19 thoughts on “You’ve got that scary feeling…

  1. The one I'm working on is like that. I had so many epic things I wanted to do with this one, make it different from my other three. I planned it to death. And now that I'm writing it, there's so much I need to go back and add.

  2. It's sort of like walking through an unknown door. For me, hammering out the first draft is just the most difficult part of the process. Having an outline as a guide makes that easier.
    Good luck as you get this one going!

  3. To your initial question: yes. I despise that feeling, yet I have no one to blame for it. I do it to myself. But why? I know what's coming. I know what to do. Why can't I just go with it. *sighs* I think J. Lenni has great advice. I'll have to try it.

  4. I know the feeling well. Frankly, writing is a terrifying process. Like Terry, drafting is the hardest part of the process for me, but I find outlining a waste of time. While I do use beats, it's impossible to outline a character's emotions, and that's what my stories are about.

    I think Robert DeNiro summed it up beautifully last night at the Oscars:
    “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul crushing inadequacy. And that's on a good day.”

    VR Barkowski

  5. Good (and timely, for me) reminder. I have to really tell myself to turn off the critic and editor and just write– write even if it's horrible. Otherwise I just get paralyzed.

  6. a new book always excites and terrifies me. I always have a clear start and end, but then get that fear of what can happen in the middle? Just have to bite the bullet and start…it will come!

  7. Oh, lordie, I get hit with this feeling fairly frequently. And i have gone months without writing, usually when I've just finished a long writing project and really need a break! But fear and trepidation is part of what fuels good writing-I'm convinced of it. Push through that fear into inspired writing.

  8. Starting a new novel feels a bit like oushing off from the coast in a very small boat. You can only dimly see the horizon and you've no idea whether you'll make it… but you just know you have to go. Best of luck with it 🙂 JJ

  9. I think you're right and that this feeling will never go away. I don't think it's restricted to the beginning of a novel though. Sometimes when I'm about to rewrite a scene, I know what to do but the idea of it is so daunting I have that same feeling and procrastinate like crazy.

  10. I have those bouts. Usually after I finish one project and am starting another. Sometimes I don't wonder if it isn't part of my process. shrug.

  11. I'll usually get a really good idea, write it out as long as I can, then take months sometimes to get back to it and actually start any writing. Getting the idea is easy, developing it is hard.


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