Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Stop Worrying and Start Writing

I constantly worry when I write. I worry that what I'm working so hard on won't matter someday. I worry that my writing is bad, or the characters are flat. I worry that I'll never get an agent or become published and that all the work I've done will go to waste. I worry a lot, and sometimes, I swear I'm going to drive myself crazy.
Everyone has things to worry about, and everyone handles that worry in their own way. I think writers especially are a worry-filled bunch, simply because we have so much to worry about. Is our writing good? Will we ever finish this book? If we do, will it ever get published? Are we crazy for even trying?

Worrying is natural and okay--to an extent. Because what happens when you start to worry about every little detail of every little sentence you write in your unfinished manuscript? You freeze. And that's bad.
This, unfortunately, is exactly where I've found myself lately. As I've been working on my fantasy project, I've struggled with getting through the first few chapters. Not because I don't feel like writing or don't know what to say, but because I'm worrying about what an agent will think when they read the book. Will they think the sentence I just wrote is cheesy? Will they think the whole plot is cliche and overdone? I've found myself rereading the same chapters over and over and getting discouraged because it doesn't seem good enough.
Believe it or not, it actually took me quite a while to figure out that my problem here was worrying. All this time I thought I was just stuck or had writer's block. But it's not the story that's hindering me--it's myself. I know now that I need to stop focusing on what other people will think, and write this book for me.
I didn't write Unperfected for an audience at first. In fact, as I was writing it, I wasn't even sure if I was going to attempt to get it published. Honestly, I just wanted to test myself and see if I could actually write an entire book. That experience obviously turned into something way different than I ever thought, and now I'm attempting to publish Unperfected while simultaneously working on my writing career and college. Now I've begun exploring the world of agents and queries and publishers. I'm focusing on writing new things while also focusing on publishing and my future career. I never really thought that those two things could have such an impact on each other, but they really do.
Are you in a similar boat? Do you worry what an agent will think about every sentence you write or idea you have? Do you worry that your future audience will think your writing sucks?
Focusing on things like that, I've learned, is the fastest way to freeze yourself up. And instead of getting things done, you end up opening your word document, rereading the last sentence your wrote, and then closing it again.
The nice thing about this, though, is that you can unfreeze yourself with a change in mindset. This week when you sit down to write, focus on writing for yourself. Don't think about the future, or agents and editors, or publication. Think about your story and what you want to say--not what others want you to say. If you've been stuck like me and haven't written for a few days, you might need to word vomit at first just to get yourself back into the writing mood. Another thing you can do is stay focused on today rather than the future. The future is scary simply because it's uncertain, but if you keep your focus on the day before you, things become easier to handle. 
This week, I'm going to attempt to set small writing goals for myself each day while simultaneously focusing on writing for myself. Hopefully over time I'll be able to finally get into my fantasy project and will be able to write without fear again.
As I said before, the future is scary because it's uncertain. And because of that, we worry. But worry doesn't have to be such a hindrance to your writing if you don't want it to be. Just focus on your goals, your words, and your desires. Write for yourself. Soon enough, you'll be unstoppable.


"Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

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