“Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.” -Luvvie Ajayi Jones
As a writer, as an author, you will always have to wrestle apprehension. It is definitely wresting, and you will have to reckon with it. Any time, and every time, you start something new, there will be this feeling of unease! Yet, it is just that–a feeling!
No matter how big the problem or feeling is, you are always bigger than the problem!
When dealing with the apprehension that deals with book writing, remember to be gentle with yourself. Remember to celebrate along the way. Give yourself positive affirmations like these:
I am going to do as best I can today.
I am going to write as best I can today.
I am going to make this idea a reality because I can.
My idea is going to be a great book and I am going to write it!
The apprehension is normal. The uncertainty is normal. Even the fear is normal! But what you must know is fear is an emotion that makes you pay attention because you are uncertain–it’s a warning! Accept the warning, pay attention to it. Proceed with caution. How, you ask? Write through it. Subdue it with your pen and imagination.
Let me off you this bit of encouragement: you have already done the hardest thing. The hardest thing that you have done, or will do, for this endeavor is start.
You started! At this point, accept the nerves that will come with this. Accept that the map is not completely laid, the ideas will stutter, and there may even be some days that you think you cannot do this. With you not believing you can’t go on or write another word–when the fear and apprehension try to take hold–do this: breathe.
As hard as it is, I want you to breathe. I want you to remember the thoughts you want to write are yours; the story is yours; the space is yours; you are still in control! Bear in mind the words of James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed unless it is faced.”
This is the fear you must face, and face down–this unknown. You must embrace this unsteadiness–it will pass. It will pass as you continue on. You can do it. Keep going.
So you have decided to write a book. The next question I know that you’re asking is, “Now what do I do?” The answer for that is this:
A freewrite is a mind dump! It is an exercise I will always recommend due to the ability and freedom it grants a writer. It is a way to explore an idea without judgement. Without criticism. Without the fear that you don’t think it sounds right.
A freewrite should be based on the idea you want to write your book about. This tool works for fiction and non-fiction as well! The goal with this exercise is to capture your idea (no matter what it is) long enough to put it on paper or screen.
Forget the spelling mistakes. Forget grammar. Forget cohesion (for the moment. Put a pin in that–we will come back to that later). Your goal is to write down what you want to write–not what you think people want you to write. And sometimes that can be difficult! However, it is not impossible! You can do it, you must do it, one word at a time.
Quick tip: To stave off anxiety, you can set a timer for 30 minutes when you are prepared to write. Whatever you write in this time–is a win! If you feel lead to write more, reset your timer and start again.
Heed the warning of our beloved Mother Shonda! When I read YEAR OF YES, she mentioned this concept of ‘laying some track’. I took this to mean getting some ideas down. Getting some things off your head and seeing where they lead you.
Sometimes, this is the scariest thing.
What idea do you need to see on paper? On screen? That you dream of even!
This is your reminder to lay your track–and see where it leads. Your imagination might just surprise you.
Toni Morrison said that the book you want to read, you might just have to write.
It is with that motivation in mind, I tell you this: The fear of writing a book is normal.
I say it again: THE FEAR OF WRITING A BOOK IS NORMAL.
It is scary to put your thoughts in a place where not just you will be able to read them. It is completely valid to think you can’t, you won’t, you shouldn’t and you should abandon all thought of it! Let this month, be the hug you need to reassure–as well as the nudge forward to begin.
It’s always the scariest part right before you begin! That will never change–you just learn how to manage it!
So where are three things I want you to keep in mind which will minimize your anxiety, which will only fuel your apprehension:
1.) Recognize the fear is normal. You’re creating a new thing! That is nerve-racking! But it is normal.
2.) Realize that no book or story is written overnight. You do have time.
3.) Remember that you are in control of the story. How fast or how slow–you are the one that is flying the plane.