Fear is Not an Option

It’s Monday, which means it’s time for a #writemotivation check in.  It also means it’s been a week since I posted my New Year’s resolutions.  So how am I doing?  Well, this blog post means I have successfully posted once a week for the first two weeks of 2012.  I have also written a tweet tale every day and am having lots of fun with it.  Hooray for small victories!  

The bad news is I STILL have not started the rewrite of The Hunt, so now it’s only two weeks until the Amazon contest deadline.  But that’s not really the bad part because I can always submit it as is.  The bad part is WHY I can’t make myself start.  I have friends and family encouraging me.  I’ve met incredible new people through #writemotivation who are waving their pom poms furiously.  And I WANT to rewrite it.  I love this little story, and I think it has shot, but I know it needs a bit of spit and polish before it’s ready.  But I just can’t start the rewrite.
It almost feels like there is a physical wall blocking me.  I open my laptop and stare at the screen, but I can’t make myself double click on the document.  I also have a printed version sitting on my desk, which I look at multiple times a day, but I can’t make myself pick it up.  It’s frustrating.
I was a psych major, and I’ve had enough heart-to-hearts with the people in my life to know what the problem is: fear of failure.  I’ve rewritten The Hunt several times already, so I know this last rewrite will be THE ONE.  Once it’s done, I’ll have no more excuses not to start querying.  And we’ve all heard the stories about J.K. Rowling and Kathryn Stockett – even bestsellers are rejected a heart-numbing number of times.  So as long as I have a manuscript that needs “just one last rewrite” then I can’t be rejected.  I can’t be unsuccessful. I can’t fail.
But the truth is, this limbo of not finishing is the worst kind of failure.  To not be willing to take the chance . . . to have taken these characters so far and then abandon them this close to the finish line is a betrayal: of my story, of my craft, of myself.  I recently saw a quote from James Cameron that said, “Failure is an option, but fear is not,” and I need to always keep this at the front of my mind.  Since I’ve finally reached the point where I am beyond disgusted with myself, I’m hoping it’s the breakthrough I need to make myself start.  It will only take rewriting one sentence to get the editing ball rolling.  So please excuse me while I go open a certain word document. . . .
What challenges do you face when it’s time to rewrite a novel?  Do you struggle with fear of failure?  If so, how do you deal with it? 


K.T. Hanna's picture

Well the good news is you still have two weeks left :D Silver lining and all.

You've done so well with the rest of your goals for the first week, I KNOW you can do this too. Fear of Failure is something all writers struggle with.

We'll keep waving our pompoms

Jocelyn Rish's picture

Thanks, K.T.!  Those pompoms will surely give me the boost I need to make it through!

Jessica McKendry's picture

I started my second novel in November, but I just realized (after editing book one) that there's a lot I need to change. I decided that I had to re-write what I'd already written but it's a lot harder than I thought. I guess it's easier to write something you've never written before than have to think of a different way to say the same things.

Good luck!!

Jocelyn Rish's picture

Thanks, Jessica!  The rewrite process is so overwhelming sometimes - you just want to throw your hands up and say, "But I already wrote that!"  But I know it always makes the writing so much better, we just have to grit our teeth and get through it.

LadyJai's picture

I so totally feel you! I've only written shorts. Writing a novel scares the heck out of me! I have one...or two...or three...in mind, and I've actually written a chapter and a half on one of those ideas. However, the whole thing is so overwhelming that it really gets me down. I am not sure I can write something so large! Plotting? how the heck do you do that? Structuring? Again, how? If I just sit down and write...well, where the heck is it going? I have no clue. There are too many questions swimming around my head to get it out on the page. My shorts are comfortable. Safe. I don't have to expand. I love to leave people hanging, wanting more. :) But, my dream has always been to write a novel! Why can I not make myself overcome my fear?

I love that we have #writemotivation. I love to surround myself with all the positive energy. I love the encouragement I receive. But it is strictly my CHOICE to write or not. If it's the right thing to do, if it's positive, it's the hardest thing to do! But, you have to make a conscious choice to do it and stick to it! Check out my blog post today. No matter what you do, it's your choice. And you have to stick by it!

And remember, even one word written, is one step closer to your goal. I am trying to start with baby steps. I am happy when I write 100 words in a day! Sometimes I suprise myself. :) take it one day at a time, one hour, or one word at time if you have to. :D We are all behind you!

Jocelyn Rish's picture

Excellent point, LadyJai, about this being my decision to write.  

I've always been a pantser with all my novel rough drafts written during NaNo, so I have always felt out the story as I wrote it.  Hence the need for so many rewrites! :-)  Just think of each chapter as a short story in a world of interconnected short stories and that should help you get a rough draft down.

Ceridwen's picture

LadyJai, until recently I had the same problem as you with structuring. I'm also writing my first novel, and before that I only wrote short stories, and I had never worried about structure before. The site which helped me learn what I needed to correct the plot of my story was Storyfix.com.

There are many articles on structure there. Especially check the ones that were published at the time of Nanowrimo in October last year: http://storyfix.com/2011/10/page/4 (there are over 30 posts. This is the first index page for October)

You're right that writing is a choice we make, and we have to stick by it. Best luck! :)

quintonroberts's picture

I'm not a writer, but I can relate to the fear of failure! At times it feels like I'll never do anything again, for one reason or another. I don't have a whole lot of experience dealing with it though, I'm still working on that!

One thing I did do was to just say "You know what? Screw this." and then go and do something - it definitely beats sitting around doing nothing. A few years back I ended up helping out with my University's Orientation week that way. I was terrified, but had a blast once I was there! Breaking that fear of going was hard, but the alternative wasn't any better (sitting around, doing nothing, etc.)

That quote is a really great one! I think I'll share it with someone else I know who enjoys posting random quotes on Twitter, I think she'll like it :)

Good luck with your rewrite! I can't even imagine writing a short story, let alone a novel! You are all awesome!

Jocelyn Rish's picture

Thanks, Quinton!  It is way too easy to let fear keep us from trying new things in all aspects of our life.  I think I need to adopt "Screw this" as my new mantra.  :-)

Ceridwen's picture

I know how you feel! I'm very perfectionist and half my brain simply can't accept that there are things like writing fiction that I don't know enough about, I don't have any real experience with, and that I need to learn brick by heavy brick. This annoying part wants me to do it all masterfully in one stroke *rolls eyes*.

What I do is similar to what Quinton mentioned, I just ask myself "how much do you want it? how much do you want to be a writer?" These questions seem to turn a switch inside of me, and I start writing at least a few ideas, if I don't actually work on the story.

I wish you all the luck. Fear may hurt, but it seems to be the gateway for anything we want to accomplish. ;)

Jocelyn Rish's picture

Perfectionists of the world, unite!  :-)  Thank you, Ceridwen, for the inspiring words.  I'll definitely keep those questions in mind the next time the pull to turn on the TV or the wii threatens to overwhelm my intention to write.

Leah's picture

Dear girl, I've been re-writing my first novel for a year! It's insane! Along the way, I got some form rejections when I submitted it WAY to early in its lifecycle, and then got a much nicer rejection not long ago when I decided to chat with an agent via Twitter, and she read my query/first chapter or three, and said she'd just picked up a similar novel so couldn't represent mine.

All rejections sting, but as you well know, you can't succeed if you don't even try. So...what can I do to help? Pep talks? Commiseration? Shameless cheering on? Tell me - I am happy to help!

Jocelyn Rish's picture

You're so sweet, Leah!  I'm so excited by the progress you've made on you rewrite and can't wait to read it.

Jocelyn Rish's picture

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