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. 🙂

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In which I follow my own advice.

I just finished reading an awesome book. And it makes me want to write. So bad.

I haven’t had this urge to write since finishing Doorways, really. And I love this feeling.

Even if it feels a lot like I’m going nuts.

My mind’s whirring thoughts past so fast, I can’t even really see them. I just know they’re there. Hopefully, once I start writing, they’ll pin down and I can write.

Right now is sort of inconvenient, though, since I’m still smack in the middle of edits. But you know what? I’ve been thinking.

While I wrote my previous post, I kept thinking of this once scene in the movie Center Stage. Now, I suspect that the ballet movie probably won’t fall in everyone’s tastes, but bear with me.

See in that movie is a scene that stayed with me ever since I saw it.

Basically, one of the main characters wants to be a Prima Ballerina, but feels like no one’s giving her the chance she deserves. One evening, one of the teachers catches her practicing and gives her advice.

It’s a bit of a long time since I watched the scene, but the gist is this:

No matter what, go back to the practice bar. If something goes well, go back. If someone upsets you. Go back. If you lose out at an audition, go back. Never give up. One day, your dedication will pay off.

That’s the same for us writers. No matter what, we have to go back to writing. If someone gets an agent and you don’t, write. If you’re stuck on sub, write. If you feel like no one will see the talent you know you’re gifted with, write. If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. If you missed out on yet another contest. If you missed a requested for partials by this much. If you’re terrified of how your book will be received on the eve of publication.

Write. 

Write. 

Write. 

That dedication will pay off in some form.

And you know what? While I don’t have a looming deadline on edits waiting, I’m going to follow my own advice. Who’s with me?

Three Month Anniversary

Tomorrow is the three month anniversary of my publishing deal.

Time’s rushed by at such speed that I’m a little dizzy.

Sometimes, it scares me. Every passing day brings me that much closer to publishing my book. To having my work pried from my nervous fingers and thrown open for the world to see.

I’m so terrified that it’ll fail to gain an audience. After so much time spent just to get Doorways to a state worth publishing, it might just break my heart to see it flounder in the market.

Here, I know some of you are rolling your eyes. First books are stepping stones to the next ones. I’ve heard it before.

But the fact is that other books exist in my mind under Doorways. As in Doorways covers most of my creative thought. It’s done so for over half a decade. The world, the history, the characters, everything exists there as if completely real. The other stories… well, they’re real too, but only for a few weeks at a time before the beast that’s the Doorways series drowns out all other voices once more.

So no. To me, it’s my first book, but it’ll never be a stepping stone. Except to launch me and my readers (one or one million of them) into the rest of the story.

And damn it, I still have a lot of this story to get out there. I don’t want it to run out of steam after two books.

That terrifies me even more than just the first book failing. Because without telling the whole story, working so hard on the first quarter of it feels absolutely useless.

Needless to say, the speed of time running by is making me very nervous.

I know this has to be done, though. It’s one of the things I’m made to do. Create stories and have others read them. For that to happen, I have to close my eyes and let my fears go.

Anyone about to be published feel the same way? For you published authors, how did you feel right before publishing?

A to Z Challenge: Failure

Mmm… today I’m seeing some shudders amongst those not-quite-so-new novelists among you.

For very. Very. Good reason.

Because failing sucks.

Really does.

And I’d be incredibly sympathetic except for a tiny little insignificant little truth that we vets know about and you don’t. Stop giggling vets. I’m going to spoil your fun and tell them.

Brace yourselves, kids, it’s a big one.

There is no such thing as a failed book.

You know those half finished works in progress hidden under your beds and in boxes and drawers? Nope. They’re not failures. Not even the terrible ones.

Okay new kids, you can stop gaping. It’s really true. Ask anyone who’ve been in the game for a while.

The reason for this is twofold:

Firstly, a failed book is only a failed book once you’ve given up on a story for ever. And I guarantee that you won’t. The reason why I know is because of the second reason why failed books don’t exist.

Every new project you start is a lesson in what works and what doesn’t. So yeah. Some of your old stories will have sucked. But never all of it. Maybe there’s an awesome character waiting to come to life. Or the basic premise was AMAZING but you didn’t have the chops to pull it off.

Guess what. You’re learning. Every time you take on a new story, you’re learning. And if you have an open mind to what critique partners have to say… If you pay attention to the lessons other writers learnt (blogs are brilliant sources of this sort of information, by the way)… Guess what. You will learn even faster.

And once you have the chops, you have three choices. You can use everything you’ve learnt up to this point and write something completely different. Or you can go back to one of the previously imagined failed manuscripts. There, you can either rewrite the whole thing using your mad new writing skills, or you can recycle everything you can use and start something better with it.

So I’m asking you nicely. Please please stop being afraid of failing. Try being excited about learning instead. And if you have to give up on a project, don’t get rid of it. Don’t forget about it. Because something inside might just be what gives you a bestseller idea.

How have you used knowledge gained in “failed” writing projects?

Drafting for me

Thanks so much to the people who commented on Friday’s post. You really talked me down from the panic I’d started to experience.

It really reminded me of something. No matter what people say, we writers have to trust our guts first.

I really stepped on a bad landmine with this WiP. Instead of worrying about the story, I worried about what people would think. I can’t imagine an agent liking this. Or a reader liking it. Or even my CPs liking it. So I don’t like it.

Thing is, writing a draft shouldn’t be about what other people like. It’s about what the story needs. Once the draft is done, I can look at it again and try to figure out how to make the story more tolerable for the people I mentioned above.

For now though, I shouldn’t be worrying about them at all.

I should be writing the story according to its own internal logic. I should be discovering what that logic is. I should get to know and love my characters. I should discover the plot. At this stage, nothing else matters.

So that’s what I’ll do now. Just write, for me. Not worrying about what anyone might think of it. Heck, if no one likes the story by the end? So what? It’s not like I’m writing only to publish. I can learn a lot just from writing. Things I can use for stories people do like. I won’t be letting outsiders intrude on this draft again.

Do you also sometimes start to doubt yourself based on what other people might think about what you’ve written? How do you deal with it?

Overcoming Your Fear of Blogging

Hello Everyone in Misha-Land! Thanks so much for having me.

Today I’m going to share with you my fears about writing and what scares me to death when I sit down to blog each week. It’s a little bit dramatic, a lot personal and even more so about conquering my fear of hitting “submit” at the end of writing a post.

I have been journaling since I was a child and began blogging on Livejournal in 2000. These posts were filtered for only friends and acquaintances to see to keep up with my life. For a long time, I found much rejection from people who read my posts. I was judged in times of great pain, gossiped about when happy and general raked over the coals for being myself. It made my life a living hell because I also saw many of these people socially.

It seemed these “friends” didn’t know me as well as I thought. I slowly phased them out of my blog filter, one at a time. Eventually, I was at the point where every post I wrote felt it should be made private. I marveled at the point of that. I didn’t want to write my thoughts and feelings just for me, I wanted to share my life and connect with others as well.

For a time, I gave up blogging. My heart just wasn’t in it. I sat on the idea of wanting to blog for a few years but wasn’t sure how to start up again. I didn’t have any friends who blogged anymore and to write for the whole public to see, even though I knew I’d be lucky to get one or two readers, was terrifying. I had something to share that was important to me but I needed others to see it, otherwise I may as well be talking to myself.

I had so many questions this time around. What if I was rejected for being myself again? Should I put on a happy face and only post about specific topics, such as knitting? Or could I sprinkle in posts about how I’m feeling in my life as things happen? How much of me should I put out there? What if something I posted upset someone and made me lose friends again? (It did, but it was bound to happen.) What if a future employer read things they didn’t like? Would I not get hired?

I decided to take the plunge anyway. I created a new public blog and gave myself a fresh start. I chose not to tell anyone about it until I had a decent amount of content posted, as I was still feeling very insecure about the entire process. I fumbled my way through post after post, trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. I was still struggling with how much of me to put out there and couldn’t see my way around it!

One morning, I stumbled across an article about this very topic. It spawned a great post that has changed the way I write my own blog. I instantly overcame my fear and now write whatever I want about anything I want without trepidation.

This is my advice to any writer, whether you are already published or just starting out, whether writing a book or a blog: Be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to be who you are. You are one of a kind! Go share it with the world, it needs your voice. Hit “submit” already!

Bio 

Shannon Hunter is an Apparel Design & Merchandising major at WSU in Pullman, WA. She is also the fashion columnist for the university’s newspaper, “The Daily Evergreen”, and has her own blog here. She is an aspiring fiction writer who will be attempting NaNoWriMo 2012 in November and has been blogging since 2000. She hopes her urban fantasy trilogy will become a best-seller and allow her to design clothing and accessories on the side. Currently, she writes for several blogs, studies too much and spends more time knitting than she should.

Thank you very much for your inspiring post, Shannon. I also found out who my friends were when I started blogging. Anyone else have that experience?

Before I go, I just want to ask for some volunteers. Next week, I still have no takers and I don’t know why. 😦 It’s a great way to get exposure to new bloggers and it’s a lot of fun. I even give a them to inspire your thinking process without limiting your topics too much. November’s them is Keeping Track. See? Easy. I also need a guest post for the 9th, and they’re the last open GPF slots for the year, so if you’re interested, please e-mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Edit: Thank you very much for the good response. More people than required volunteered to post for the next two Fridays! You guys continue to be awesome! X

Have a great weekend!

Starting Out as a Film Critic

Thank you Misha for having me over here today.

You might know I write movie reviews. It took patience to acquire the love for film criticism. If you aren’t passionate about writing, your journey will feel like a chore.

I began blogging six months ago and it has changed tremendously how much time I spend writing. I comment on blogs most of the time and forget about writing. Social media is an expert at doing this to writers: more time on the internet and less time writing.

It took half of my life to realize writing is what I want for a career. Yes, I’ve always loved writing but never did I take the plunge on it right away. I was too scared to begin with because the writing business is competitive.

The less I write, I’m more perceptible to losing the ambition. If I simply don’t write, my dedication will decline. I’ll realize I’m writing less often when I should be writing my heart out. I don’t want this happen but it’s always in the ballgame with the blogosphere in my distraction.

It’s difficult to discover inspiration as an aspiring writer. You run out of original ideas and then what, visit the store and shop for some ideas? This isn’t the case for writers. You must climb up a steep mountain for several years only to find nothing at all.

If I don’t have ideas, I can’t write anything. It’s hard to come up with something right away. It takes staring off in space for hours until you find a piece of gold. Some people may question you, “What are you staring at?” Then you have to explain your story, “I’m an aspiring writer. I have to come up with ideas for my novel and blog.” People are very understanding especially when they can relate to you.

This is what I love about the blogosphere: you meet writers who understand what you’re going through. I don’t want to lose these friends that I’ve made and they amaze me every day.

I fear what every writer fears: losing the enthusiasm for writing and running out of ideas. You’re not alone, guys. We are all in the same boat, taking different writing journeys.

Bio

Livia Peterson is an aspiring film critic. She’s been writing film reviews since 2010 and has enjoyed every minute of it. She currently resides in Wisconsin with her family. You can check out her blog here.


Thanks so much for this guest post, Livia. I know exactly what you mean. 

Before I go, a little admin: I still have two more Guest Post Friday’s available for the rest of the year: 2 and 9 November. The theme is Keeping Track. If you want to book one, please e-mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail.com.

Have a great weekend all!

What’s your biggest scare or writing fear? Want to write a guest post about it. 😉