Sunday, August 29, 2010


A little while ago, I mentioned in an email to Edie Ramer that I needed to re-read a blog she once posted on overcoming the fear of writing a book that feels "too big." She informed me that she never blogged about that subject.

Oh, the old gray mare ain't what she used to be... now I don't remember where I read it since it was at least a couple of years ago. Does that topic ring any bells, anyone? :)

See, Edie was kind enough to read a little something I sent her, and she said she liked the excerpt from a series idea I've been working on. It's an idea that I really like, but... I'm terrified of writing it! I'm afraid I'm not up to the task, so I put it away, but it keeps tapping on my shoulder. I've even started writing little out of order bits from across all three "planned" books in an effort to still get something down, but not freak myself out so much by actually writing sequential chapters.

And darn it, I love those little bits I've got so far. They tease me just enough to say "this could be really good" but I'm still terrified of going for the whole enchilada. I'm thinking maybe I should just keep writing these short paragraphs out of order to fool myself until eventually, I've got the whole darn thing written. ;)

All over the 'net and in various books you can find the advice to "just write, don't be afraid to suck, just get the words down and you can fix them later." This is probably great advice. Or would be, if I could just get past this phobia.

Any suggestions? Any idea where I read that other blog? :)


  1. I didn't just "like" the excerpt, I liked it A LOT. Every time I start a new book, I feel fear mixed with excitement. I never know if it's going to work. But if it doesn't work, well, so what? Then you won't send it out. And if it does ... Wow! You have a book that you love. Isn't that worth it?

    Meryl Streep said on a talk show that every movie she's asked to be in, she doubts herself. Be like Meryl and do it anyway! Write that book so I can read it!

  2. LOL, thanks, Edie. I appreciate the support. Someone, somewhere recently, blogged about an interview she heard with Roseanne Cash where Roseanne said you need to practice building your skills so that when inspiration does hit, you'll be ready.

    Lately, this has proven to be so true for me - and I think I haven't been practicing enough. Both with writing and painting. I'm sorely out of practice and it shows. That's probably part of what's holding me back, too. I hate it when I have what I know to be a good idea, but lack the skill to make what I create match my vision.

    It happened last night. I was painting something I'd had an idea about for a while, but I also hadn't painted in nearly a year. It turned out crappy. However, I just reminded myself that I need to practice some more and it will come back to me.

    Now, why can't I do that with writing?! :)

  3. Afraid not. But I have a story like that, one I'm not quite ready to write. Actually, I have more than one.

  4. I think I've written on the subject a few times, but not with any practical advice, as I'm still struggling with that. I think the things that terrify you to write are the best.

    But maybe Charles is right. Maybe it has to wait for the right time.

    I do know that even the best ideas die if I don't write them. There's a shelf life to them. If I let them sit up there too long, they become completely unwriteable.

    *stares at one of my best unwritten ideas forlornly*

    Go for it! Snippets coming means you CAN write it. Sounds like you're ready to write it!

  5. Charles, I'm surprised to hear you say that. Any particular reason you'd like to share about why you think it isn't time? (Ok, if not)

    Natasha, maybe it was you! I'll have to check. I was thinking it was Edie, but maybe she just commented on the blog in question. Seems we all read the same blogs, so it's easy to get confused. Well, easy for me. :)

    I think you're right about the shelf life, too. I've had that happen before. Or, I wait too long and somebody else does it - it's like the idea says "I'm not waiting around for this bozo - I'll get someone who'll do me justice." :)

  6. I'm with you on that fear. My novel project Outlawed is exactly that big scary book that has too many characters and too many things going on and too many stories to weave in and out to a conclusion. It's at least a duology and quite probably a trilogy.

    That is, it could be if I wasn't so dang scared to continue with it. I've written 150k words on it. It devolves from fully realized chapters to a series of scenes to a handful of vignettes to assorted character studies to the "don't forget this" notes before it fizzles out into nothing.

    So if you ever do figure out how to overcome that fear, share the seekrit. Meanwhile I'm going to keep writing least that I can finish.

  7. Wow, Travis - getting 150K done is awesome! I've only got 5k on mine so far, lol. Don't you give up, you hear me? :)

    I keep hearing Edie Ramer yelling at me "Just write the damn book!" so that's the motto I'm going for now. :) Just do it. If it's crap, you can fix it later. At least, that's what I keep telling myself. Because at least you'll have something to work with. Like Nora Roberts says, "you can fix a bad page, but you can't fix a blank one." Or something like that.

    Of course, I'm saying that now... we'll see how it actually goes. :)

  8. I don't know where the blog post was, but I wish you luck in your quest!


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