Does Fear Hold You Back?

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Years ago, I wrote six novels and in each one, I tried to conform to an idea of the “right” kind of romance novel.  I would literally write it my way then go back through and smooth down the dialogue, remove curse words, tame any scenes of violence to a PG13 rating.  I would actually pull out some of the raw, realistic brutality of action scenes and tone down the love scenes.  I second-guessed my first, gut instinct all the time. 

Bah.

No wonder they didn’t sell. 

I did get the attention of a couple of editors, one who asked for rewrites, but I always felt that I was capable of better, edgier writing.  To this day, I still sometimes have to fight the prudish, little internal editors I let set up shop back then.   I used to think of them as these weird, morphed versions of my more religious family members.  I’d be doing rewrites with these creatures pointing their razor-sharp, judgmental tipped fingers.

Then one day, I grew up.  Clued in.  Call it what you will, but I realized that this wasn’t about what anyone else thought.  This was about me.  My writing.  I was holding myself back and I can’t really explain why.  Possibly a childhood of being at the end of that pointing finger–something no child should ever experience.  (Now, that is a whole other, very long discussion–the kind I can wax angry poetic on for hours. 😉 )

So, I gave myself permission to Just. Let. Go.  Yeah, there are times when I fall into old patterns, where that membrane-like layer of self-doubt reigns in the stark, emotional writing I can sense just on the other side.  We can easily set hard-to-break patterns for ourselves.  Ones that sometimes feel as if they are sucking all of the creativity out of us.

But let me share.  Breaking free feels like nothing else.  

Did you know that all the wonders of the universe are yours?

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So I invite you to brush off any evil munchkins hovering near your shoulders, close your eyes and suck in the deepest, freshest breath you can. Snip through (or hack if yours is particularly thick) that membrane and leave your mind wide, wide open to the possibilities–the very wild, emotional, creative… or any other adjective that fits you-just make it a big one– of what you have the capacity to create. 

13 Comments

  1. I totally agree on this one. Writing is self expression and what you as a writer need to do to live through your dream is to write what you want and however you want it. I say experiment with genres, whack everything you want in a cauldron and stir at a steady temperature and all the way add new things as spices until everything just turn into a literary gourmet. If I ever get the chance at getting published with every one of my stories, readers will be perplexed as I have had a small nibble at all genres.

    Be brave! Write on and SIX NOVELS!!! Man, those are a lot of words. Talk about experience. I feel like a green rookie with one ritualistically burned novel and then another half and a dozen of short stories.

  2. Yeah, it all goes back to that pointing finger, editor on our shoulder, mother, father, sister, brother, “friend” telling us what we should write. It’s all about pushing on anyway in spite of. Carol

  3. I really needed to hear this today… I’ve been letting fear hold me back since the new year – I can’t decide which project to write next, and all I manage to do is second-guess myself, change my mind 20 times a day… and not write anything at all. *sigh*

    I need to try opening my mind to those wonderful, creative possibilities! 🙂

  4. Sometimes we have too many ideas… too many possibilities. I had trouble starting book two in my series because I could think of four different beginnings and couldn’t decide which would be best.

    Fear is our biggest obstacle. Just remember that there are a bunch of us going through this stuff. That’s why I feel blogging is so great. It may take up a bit of time, but it makes this writing stuff a little less lonely, eh?

    When I can’t make up my mind, sometimes I open my possibilities folder and type them all up. Once they’re out, I can usually pick the right one. Best thing about documenting all of that? You can always use great scenes later in something else. 🙂

    Hi Sunny! I see you have some new releases! I need to check those out. Carol has something out, too!

    Harry, we are all rookies once. I’m a little envious because that beginning is the best–when you have all those possibilities ahead of you.

    Come to think of it, we all still do, don’t we? 🙂

  5. Right now I think I am trying to squeeze out too much juice out of my muses and they seem not to like it, but yes I agree that it is wonderful to have prospects and be at the beginning, because the first steps, when you discover this beauty of word, are wonderful.

    And of course we can always end up being like Alexandre Dumas, who had a great number of works completed. I think I heard something about 200 manuscripts or something like that.

  6. Thanks for the advice, Rinda. I’m so grateful for blogging, too! I know I spend way too long over on LJ (it’s a massive time-suck), but I *do* get so much out of it. 🙂

    I think I need to go type up some of these ideas…

  7. After awhile, censorship/editing becomes reinforced to the point that we internalize it. We learn the “do’s and don’ts” on the way to becoming “professionals.” I’ve had it happen to screenplays, but it’s also consistent with doing standup (can’t play many big rooms if you’re blue) and music (can’t put that single on the air). Oftentimes, what a preaudience might find potentially offensive has nothing to do with four-letter words, or toilet gags or anything like that. The cardinal sin, for them, is the defiance of convention, breaking the mold. Doing that, they’ll tell you, will upset your audience.

    I’ve found that audiences themselves don’t seem to mind.

  8. Oh, I’m so about breaking molds, X. Somehow, I just know you are as well. It’s sooo good to hear from you! And I had no idea you do standup. None.

    Karen, I believe blogging will only benefit once we both get our books our there. 😉

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