Posts Tagged ‘writing doubts’


Fear and keeping your head

May 20, 2011

My husband and I were talking about fear the other day and he mentioned the saying that’s painted over the player’s entrance to centre court at Wimbledon: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same…” It’s a small section of poet Rudyard Kipling‘s poem If, and it reminded me of the ups and downs writers face every day.

If you don’t know If, you can find it at, and it’s worth reading. A lot of lines fit what we go through:

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you / But make allowance for their doubting too

We get lots of opinions about our writing, from critique groups, family members, friends (you know, when they inwardly roll their eyes when you say you’re working on another novel), agents, editors, etc., and it can be hard to digest. Even from those people we trust, we sometimes get conflicting ideas. But as writers, our loyalty has to be to our writing. Our job is to take in all the approvals and criticisms, process them and use only what we feel will help our work get to a new level. We have to take all the doubts and push them aside, fully believing in ourselves and our work, while also recognizing that we can always learn more.

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master

If we didn’t have the dream of being published, we probably would never show our writing to anyone. Dreaming is a big part of writing, not only for our creativity but also to power our drive, but the challenge is to not get so caught up in our dream that we don’t enjoy our lives. Writing requires a lot of waiting, and in that time, we must live — and write even more.

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew / To serve your turn long after they are gone / And so hold on when there is nothing in you / Except the Will which says to them “Hold on”

I’ve read about and talked to a lot of writers who’ve had moments when they’ve thought about quitting, not wanting to face any more disappointment, but if they didn’t, they would miss out on the best part of writing: the creation — not to mention the book signings when their book is finally in print.

If we can do all that and more, as Kipling says:

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it / And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

(Or woman!)

So writers, fear will always be with us, we  just have to keep our heads.

Write On!


Community Story update

February 9, 2009

It’s Monday, so you know what that means: Community Story time.

But before I get into that, an update from me. This morning I finally started my polish of my novel. I meant to start on Saturday, but procrastinated until I ran out of time. Then I planned to start on Sunday, but couldn’t get focused so instead formated the entire 200+ pages from the novel writing software I had been using back into Word.

Why didn’t I just get down to the writing on either of those days? Well, to be honest, I felt initimidated. Here’s the problem with writing breaks again: they get you out of the writing mode and — here’s the worst part — allow those doubts to sneak in. All writers have these same thoughts, a little voice that says, “no, that’s not a good idea,” and “your story sucks, no one will be interested in it.” (I’m reading Bird By Bird at the moment, and even author Anne Lamont remembers all the times she has endured this lovely phenomenon. But I’ll write more about that in another post.)

So, my few weeks off opened the door to all these thoughts of how terrible my novel is, even though my critique group says it’s pretty good and when I’m in my right mind, it also says the novel isn’t THAT bad. But the thoughts come anyway. The trick is to not listen to them, to push them aside. Because if you pay them any attention, it’s very difficult to let yourself get swept into what you should be concentrating on — your writing.

This morning, I had no more things to procrastinate with — things that were related to the novel, at least — plus I have a critique group meeting tonight. So, I pushed away the thoughts and got down to it, wrapping up a nice three chapters of polish in a few hours. It felt good. Now to just repeat it tomorrow.

How’s your writing/revising coming?

Ok, and now for this week’s Community Story installment. The story is still short so I’m including everything so far. The second to last line was contributed by Jamie in the comments last week (thanks, Jamie — he even gave us a location!), and the last paragraph is my continuation. Contribute your own next line by posting in the comments.


Bonnie’s eyes flickered open as she laid on her back looking up at the sky. She caught a brief glimpse of a person moving away from a ledge 30 feet above her. Slightly dazed, she was not sure if she had fallen or been pushed, but what she did know was that her back was hurt and her head was throbbing from her fall. She lifted her right hand to her head. Wet. She was bleeding, and it didn’t feel like a cut that could be patched up with a Band Aid. It would have to wait, though. She could hear footsteps, and they were getting closer and more urgent.

Wincing against the pain that now radiated from her back as well as her head, Bonnie eased herself up to a sitting position and surveyed her surroundings. She had landed on a patch of soft grass nestled between two rock faces, and to her right was what looked like a drop off. She tried to stand, careful not to make any noise. But as her elbow buckled in pain, her hand knocked a small rock over the edge. She froze, waiting for the sound of the crash to alert the other people. But when no noise came, she looked over the edge and her head began to spin. The drop off was at least a hundred feet, ending in white caps of a rushing river.

Something hit the back of Bonnie’s head and she looked up. A rope had been thrown down from the ledge above her and a head was peering over the side. Panic rushed into Bonnie’s mind. “Climb up!” The head from above was shouting at her. But Bonnie didn’t know what to do. Was the head friend or foe? And really, what other choices did she have?

She grabbed the twisted rope and as she did, a FLASH popped into her mind. Wind rushed into her ears as she flew from the green Cadillac. Two quick glimpses of sky and earth and her face crunched against the rocky Tennessee soil.

That’s right. She had been in a car crash. No, not a crash, she remembered. She had jumped out of the car while it was still moving. But why would she do that? Or was she pushed? “Climb up!” the voice above her insisted again. Bonnie wished she could remember more.

What do you think the next sentence or paragraph should be? Post it in the comments.

Write On!