I’ve figured out the source of my writing block. But first, some backstory!
Last month I started a new WIP. It’s an idea that has me really excited, and I am looking forward to not only writing it, but seeing how it turns out. It’s an idea that pushes me outside of my comfort zone in terms of voice, setting, themes, and characters. Basically everything.
Which is good. I believe everyone—but especially writers—should push themselves and their work outside of their comfort zone. That scary leap into the unknown is how you grow and learn. And, frankly, ruts get boring. For everyone.
But that push is also what has me blocked at the 20% point of my MS. For one thing, I just have no idea what I’m doing. There are so many new elements to juggle, and so many ideas about how exactly to do that, that my brain just keeps shorting out and shutting down.
But more than the confusion, my MS scares me.
Yes, you read that right.
Because I want to get it right. Because I want to incorporate most of the ideas that I have. Because this is so far out of my comfort zone in so many directions, I’m scared I’m stretching myself thin, and yet I wouldn’t want to change a thing about it.
I realized that what was holding me back was my own insecurity, and now I have to stop stressing over things that aren’t even written yet, woman up, and write this freakin thing.
So how do you (or me, in this case) face the fear?
Basically, I find ways to shut up that little voice telling me I’m making a horrible mistake.
Scared about writing the unknown? Do more research. Outline the MS. Plan ahead what I’m going to write.
Scared about characters feeling flat or trite? Create detailed backgrounds for them. Give them strong motivations. Give them unique likes/dislikes. Know their favorite food, their favorite book, their dream vacation, know all those things you’re never going to include in the book, but will probably shade all their thoughts/actions. Make them real. Make them alive.
Scared about themes failing in your prose? Fuck it, be heavy handed with them. It’s a first draft, it’s going to be a mess anyway. Make sure the stuff you want is there, and go back and make them subtler in the second draft. Or third. That’s what editing is for, right?
Write the book you want to write. Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you. Think of the fear as a good sigh: it means you’re on the right track.