This is the third post in myFear Stages in Writingseries, where I explore the stages of writing and the way fear hits it. It’s my theory that most of these fears have their roots in childhood, and our inner two year old is the best cure for them!
This is the series so far:
2. first draft-itis
This week’s topic is editing. Here are the questions from the introduction:
• Do you feel like your writing sucks?
• Do you think that no one will like this?
• Do you feel like your characters suck and the scrap heap is the best for your story?
I think I have answered yes to all of these questions in my previous editing experiences. I have tossed a book aside because of these questions, and a stack of stories. By becoming aware of fear playing into your editing process and then by getting your inner two year old’s help in fighting it, you can finalize a story and make it all perfect for you. Like with last week’s installment, I have picked two ways fear mucks up your editing process.
1. I can’t fix this
This fear is also known as “I am completely overwhelmed by the work I have to do to get this story finished”. Every writer has this, no matter if they are pantsers or plotters. Every time you write the first draft, eventually the story takes over, makes itself better (at least you think that the moment you write it). You look at the first draft and only see gigantic plot holes, and see gaps in character development, and in twists that you feel you can’t sell to your readers.
You know what? It’s the first draft. When a child first learns to play withLegobricks it makes something that resembles chaos. Then after playing with it for a while, it learns to make houses. Your story is a crappy first draft, a tower of bricks that could topple over any moment, just held together with some good ideas and reasonable writing in some of the chapters. You can fix anything. Just keep at it.
2. People will hate my story
Fear is stupid. It sets you up for failure because in the world of fear it’s all black and white. Of course, not everyone will like your story. Even some of the world’s most loved stories (Harry Potter comes to mind) has a long list of people who hate hate hate hate hate it.
So fear wants you to cower away in the corner thinking no one will want to read it, because it only sees the haters, for fear there is no one to love what you wrote. And even when there is someone, there are the usual excuses. “Oh, he says he loves it because he loves me. He can’t say that he hates it because he doesn’t want to break my heart.”
Trust in your story, and trust that it will find its audience. Let your inner two year old’s wisdom andexuberancehelp you break through this fear and edit this story, make it the best you’ve ever written, until you write a new one that’s even better, of course.
Inner two year old to the rescue!
Alright, so you are sitting at your desk and you shiver with fear at the first draft in front of you. How do you break through it?
• Go back to the list of reasons why you love this story. Paste it above your desk to remind you of them when your fears start howling at you.
• Set up rewards. Editing is hard. Give yourself a cookie if you finish ten pages. Pick out a gift you will give yourself when you are done!
• Celebrate your new discoveries. Last week I danced through the kitchen when I thought of a brilliant new chapter for my book.
• Alternate writing and editing. I always have something else to work on while I edit, this way I keep my creative mind involved in the editing process.
• Don’t hang on to anything. Fearlessly drop something you loved to write if i is better for your book.
With editing inevitably comes the art of finalizing the book. This can bring on a whole new series of fears. That’s why this is the topic of next week’s post!