The mind is a funny place. Our insecurities, desires and expectations can inspire us one moment and toss us into despair the next.
Self-doubt and fear of failure are my particular bugaboos. I allow them to put me in a state of writing catatonia far too often. I have to fight every day to force the words out and I find far too many excuses to put off writing time.
So I set ridiculously low goals for myself. Currently it’s 750 words a day. Intellectually, I know I can do this in an hour or so. Realistically, it takes me all day to get it done. I work in fits and starts. 10 minutes here, 15 there. I stop in the middle of sentences and check something on the internet, go grab a drink or hunt down my kids and ask them something inane.
I’ve tried higher word counts. I don’t get anything done when I do that. It’s like the shear number of words causes a mental shut down. This is why I fail so badly at Nano.
I also hem myself in with ‘rules’ for what I’m writing. Every chapter needs to be X many words. They must be of roughly equal length or I add to them until they are. Especially if I’m switching POV from character to character. Then I’m fighting to make the story fit the rotation instead of just writing.
So why do I make things so hard for myself? I LOVE to write, hard as that may be to believe. You’d think the words would be flying off my fingers. I’ve got so many story ideas banked I’m set for the next couple years. I should be prolific enough to rival Stephen King.
It boils down to fear. Once I finish a story and put it up for publication, my soul is stripped bare for the world to see. I’m vulnerable in ways I never thought I’d be and it’s scary. I’ll be open to the ridicule and barbs I left behind in high school and it’s a rare person who’d willingly do that to themselves.
Writers must be masochists, though. Because even though that fear is lurking I still plug away, finishing my paltry 750 words with the plan of opening myself up and letting total strangers into my world.
And you know what, somehow I’ll make it through. Someone out there will like what I’ve written and that’ll make it all worthwhile.