Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Fear. It's something we all deal with. Some of our fears are irrational (there probably isn't a monster in the closet, unless my husband is about to scare me again) and some of them are quite rational (yes, avoiding black widow spiders is smart). There are fears that we have because of a lack of information, there are fears we have based on past events, and fears that are related to current events in our lives. Lots and lots of fears that people deal with in one way or another.

For most writer's there is a fear that we all share. Namely, that our work isn't good enough. 

Now I know that this isn't a fear unique to writers, but I am writer, and I know many of my readers are writers (or artists) and will identify with what I'm saying.

When you write something (or create a work of art) you invest a lot into it. You put in your time and effort, but more than that, you put a piece of yourself into your work. So this fear of not being good enough is very, very personal. 

I have struggled with this fear many times in my life, and most recently, as I've been working on outlining Misfits, the book I wrote during NaNoWriMo last year. (note: Misfits is a working title) I look at this piece of work in front of me and I see all its messy flaws, and believe me, it has a ton of them. One of the characters starts out talking in full sentence and later in the book he only speaks in choppy, broken sentences. One of the character speaks like a normal person and I need to fancy up his language and give him lots of big words to use. There are plot holes. Places where I made things work so I could keep writing and it's just quite frankly not believable. The conversations in places are so stilted it makes me cringe. 

It would be really easy to stop right here and say, "This is never going to be worth the effort. I should do something else." It is going to take a LOT of work to make this book at all readable and, after all that work, what if it's still not good enough? 

Here's the thing though. I can't worry about that yet. As my brother reminded me yesterday, Misfits is a 71k book that I wrote in 29 days. Of course it has lots of problems! Since I've never completed an entire first draft of a novel, and I wrote this one in a very short period of time, there is absolutely no way that the first draft could be anything but a mess.

And so I go on.

I'm 75% of the way through outlining the book, and when I'm done I'm going to spread the manuscript out on the floor, scene by scene with it's matching index card, and make some hard decisions about what needs to be done from there to fix it. I'm committed to bringing this book to a complete second draft, and my fears be damned. I can't let them rule my work or I'll never get anywhere.

Sure, there's a chance I'm investing all this time and effort and I'll decide, in the end, that this book isn't worth publishing, and that's ok. I'll have learned a lot through the process (and believe me I am!) and the next one I write will be better. I have to believe that, or I might as well stop writing. So adios fear, you can pack your bags, I'm not going to listen to your seductive voice.

~ Ruthie ~

1 comment:

  1. You are so very true Ruthie-As an artist, I have that fear too. Sometimes, I look at my jewelry and I think, "Who really is going to buy this? There are so many more greater pieces of jewelry out there!" THAT'S the time you have to give yourself some positive affirmation and MAKE yourself believe your work is worth it. Because it is :)

    My boyfriend is the same with his music; he's his own toughest critic.

    It's a common occurrence, but what really matters is what you do with those thoughts!