I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks, just like I’ve been meaning to work on fleshing out my backstory and the history for BLOOD PRICE, so I can finally work on the next round of edits.
Yet, I keep procrastinating, because fear has reared its ugly head again and I’ve been succumbing to it.
I’m not exactly sure if I can pinpoint why.
I know it’s a form of self-rejection. Ironically enough, Chuck Wendig, fantastic writer and one of my favorite bloggers, um, ever, published a post about self-rejection just this very afternoon (thanks for always unknowingly post exactly what I need to hear, my good sir). As he listed a few different forms of self-rejection, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint which one I’m succumbing to right now, which he so wonderfully depicts, quoted below:
“The work isn’t ready yet so I’ll just do these 400 other things first.” Procrastination is a snake masquerading as a tool. You’re like, “Oh hey I need this screwdriver OH GOD IT’S A PIT VIPER IT’S BITING MY EYE.” We do this thing, and I’ve done this thing, where we pre-judge our work to be unready, and so we choose to do more work on it — a bunch of worldbuilding, one more draft, another draft, a 453rd draft, a rewrite, a new outline, maybe I’ll start this other book first and then come back to this one (spoiler warning, I won’t come back to it). This is one of the nastiest versions of self-rejection because it doesn’t feel like self-rejection. It feels like progress! It feels like work! “I’m working! I’m doing stuff! I’m a writer!” And yet, somehow, the work never seems to actually get done. You kill it under a smothering blanket of love and it dies ten feet from the finish line.
I mean, I’m not lying when I choose to do other things. 95% of the time, they are valid commitments and items I need to be working on. This blog. Reading finalists for SPFBO. Projects for work. Beta reading for those who just finished beta reading for me.
But I’ve also been making a lot of excuses to not start working on this needed work in the past few weeks, too.
The environment’s not right, so I’ll just wait.
I gotta stay up to date on Twitter.
Probably should plan my trip to New Zealand…that’s over a year away.
An hour isn’t enough time to get started because I don’t want to have to stop once I get rolling, so I’ll just…not.
Yeah, you can read through those and label it as bullshit as clearly as I could. I was totally aware of what I was doing: putting off starting this necessary work. And it is necessary work, despite how Wendig lists worldbuilding as a potential procrastination technique–which is totally valid, because I’ve also done that before with previous books, too! But in this case, a lot of the questions my beta readers raised are because I added bits of worldbuilding into the latter half the novel as I was editing last round; bits that are good, but underdeveloped. So I need to sit down and flesh out those ideas, so I can accurately answer those questions and then dive back into the manuscript, fixing the list of issues I have for this next round of revision.
When I think about doing this work, I get excited. I’ve dreamt about it, thought about it in the shower or in bed, on nights I can’t sleep. I already have solutions and ideas running through my head and I’m itching to get back into the manuscript and elevate it to the next level, because this is a story I love and I want to tell.
It’s when I sit down to actually do the work that needs to be done that I find another way to procrastinate–some valid, others obvious time wasters. I think it’s because I’m afraid, but I’m struggling to pinpoint exactly what I’m afraid of? I mean, I know some reasons. This novel is the…truest of my heart, I think, that I’ve ever written. Past novels, I still adore and they are still part of my heart. They are still me, so please don’t mistake me in that (Artemis, I promise, I haven’t abandoned you).
But this book…it puts it all out there. It holds nothing back. It puts me out there and I’m afraid not only that everyone will hate it, but what if everyone loves it? Will I be able to follow up on it, if it does well? Will I be able to survive it, if it crashes?
All that’s assuming I find an agent and get it published, in the first place (since I want to go traditional publishing with this story).
Writing it out now, I think I’ve figured out my issue. I think…I think I’m focusing my thoughts in the wrong areas. I’m focusing on the future, on the what’s if, on so many things I can’t control. Why am I focusing on my career as an author and the what if’s of that future when I’m not even there yet? Why am I so terrified of how people are going to respond when the book isn’t even ready to be read yet?
Another thing I’m struggling with is that some of the topics I’m writing about are really relevant right now, so I’m continually freaking out with, “I need to get this published yesterday,” so it doesn’t become irrelevant years from now (ignore how I know that, even if I signed a publishing contract tomorrow, it still wouldn’t get published for another 2 years at the earliest, because my brain isn’t thinking logically when I’m in panic mode, you know?). Which, honestly, I think, is putting too much pressure on myself to finish it quickly, instead of working on it steadily and finishing it properly. Because the last thing I want to do is query my novel too early–something that, I believe, I’ve done the two times I queried previously, though definitely not nearly as badly as my first go at querying (
let’s just pretend that one never happened, okay?).
But also also, I think I need to believe in this story a little more and focus on making it the best story I can make it, right now. If I put in all the work and all the heart and the dedication I can into it, then I’ve done everything I can for this book and given it the best chance I could, at this current point in my life. I can’t control how others receive it or how much others love it or hate it, no matter what. But at least, if I confidently give it my all, I can know I’ve done that.
So…I’m going to start working on that backstory tonight and see where it takes me, fears and self-rejection be damned. Still, I’d love your thoughts and advice, if you have the time and are willing: how do you deal with self-rejection and fear that paralyzes you from writing? How do you keep going? Thanks in advance, because I appreciate you taking out the time to help a struggling writer out.