Monday, April 04, 2011

Who's In The Driver's Seat

Classic Car Steering Wheelphoto © 2009 Pete Markham | more info (via: Wylio)Last week on Seekerville, Shannon Taylor Vannatter blogged about Writing The Second Book.

(BTW, thank you to readers who made my real-life love story the #1 favorite for the first quarter of 2011 on Shannon's Inkslinger Blog! You can read the story HERE.)

After reading Shannon's Seekerville post, I was reminded anew that fear is a writer's constant companion.

What if I can't write a whole novel?
What if I never get an agent?
What if I never get published?
What if I do get published, but nobody likes it?
What if people like my book, but I find out I'm a one-hit wonder?
What if I don't ever get another contract?
What if I can't move up from category to trade-length?
What if my genre dies?
What if I can't ever figure out this branding thing?
What if....

The truth is, when I focus on these fears, it's like handing Fear the keys to the car. I'm no longer in the driver's seat. Fear is taking me where it wants me to go. I'm just along for the ride.

So, how do I get the keys back?

By force if necessary!

I have to remind myself that I've come such a long way, and every step of the way, I've faced fear. With the Lord's help, I've perservered. It hasn't been easy, nobody said it would be, but giving in to fears isn't the answer.

Some authors have a "happy file" where they keep positive feedback and special remembrances of success on the journey. When things look bad, when Fear is careening all over the road and up on the sidewalks, they take out this file and remind themselves of where they've been.

I think for me, my writing scrapbook is like a happy file. I enjoy perusing the pages and reminding myself of how far I've come. I also remind myself of the positive feedback I've received. I don't do this to toot my own horn or to feed my pride, but to say, "Hey, you've done this before and you can do it again."

Another way I dispel fear is to get to work. There is always anotherTrunk of Lincolnphoto © 2010 Mark Ash | more info (via: Wylio)
project, another WIP, another edit, another something that needs to be done. Putting my head down and working means I'm not listening to Fear.

By refusing to give in to the fears, I relegate those fears to their place on this journey. Tied up in the trunk!

Does this writing life scare you? How do you dispel the fear?


  1. "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

    Quite literally, by straightening my back, praying, and delving into the work at hand, knowing that that's all that God asks of me, the rest is up to Him I do but He asks.

    Of course, sometimes it takes days or even weeks for me pull this method out of my storehouse of Know-Hows. That's my other nemesis other than fear, and I find it far more destructive, actually. It's called procrastination! :(

    Thankfully I'm being protected from both of them right now! :)

  2. I've been fighting some of the uglies lately. On and off. And sometimes my happy file or the requests for fulls or other positive feedback isn't enough (it was never meant to be).

    Church was so refreshing yesterday b/c it reminded me of what is enough--being in God's His feet.

    Humility is what I need to get me to work hard, to get me where I'm going.
    ~ Wendy

  3. I think of conversations with my teen and young adult children, who believe they know a lot but actually don't have a clue what they don't know. I have to let them figure that out on their own. The older I get and the more I write, the more I'm aware of all the threads and elements to keep track of for a strong result, and yes, that sometimes intimidates me. I have to remind myself I've done it before. Now I have a chance to do it better.

  4. Great post!! What I do, is I tell myself I'm not alone in my fears. I'm not the first one to feel them. I push them aside and write! Oh, and pray. I pray a lot about them too.

    BTW, I thought you were a Cubs fan????

  5. It should scare me more than it does right now, but I'm in that in between stage where my book is contracted and I'm trying to cut down my story to keep my voice, story integrity and writing style in tact. What scares me is that all this cutting will make my story less than what I thought it could be and that my writing will ultimately suck! After that I'll be worried about people buying it and liking it!! So I guess, I am scared! LOL! Just too busy to dwell on it!

  6. I needed this post today, Erica. I'm in a weird, ridiculous fear place right now, and it's time to get out! Thankfully, I took the weekend to just enjoy life. It helped a lot!

  7. Staying in action helps to push my fear out of the sunshine back and into the mist beyond. It never goes completely away, but staying hopeful keeps it from controlling me.

  8. is so paralyzing, isn't it? I have to pray myself through it, because I often get caught in it's grasp. Phooey on fear!

  9. I always fear the first blank page! I can stare at it for hours. I have to remind myself it's just one page of many and will eventually be deleted. ;)

  10. Eileen, I have found a direct link between my fear and my ability to procrastinate! Sometimes I'm afraid of a particularly difficult scene and I put off writing with all manner of creative procrastination. :)

    Wendy, church is so refreshing, and such a good reminder to me. When I allow God to have His rightful place, my fears are relegated to theirs.

  11. Olivia, past success is an excellent vanquisher of fear! Looking back at the hard trail traveled makes the current mountain in front of us surmountable.

    Katie, bravery does love/need company. I can always count on my cp's and friends to help me banish fear. :)

  12. Gina, busy is a good antecdote to fear. You're on such an exciting roller-coaster, so put your hands in the air and enjoy the ride! :D

    Jill, sometimes just getting away from the writer-noise to get a handle on our fears and where they should be in perspective to everything else in our lives.

  13. Lynn, I love your descriptive turn of phrase! Fear does belong on the margins!

    Sherrinda! LOL Phooey on fear is right! Grab those keys back and shove that nasty fear into the trunk.

  14. Tana, I usually have a first sentence. It's the second one that I tend to sit and stare at the screen over for a long time. :)

  15. From my experience in the music world, fear can paralyze, but it can also become a secret friend. Remember girlies, no matter what, "God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind." So don't let that spirit take up residence in you. I've spent far too long in my life in a crippling, comfortable, secret relationship with fear. God has given you the ability to write. Trust Him to manifest His plan through you! Blessings!