As a writer in this brave new world of 2016 I have a lot of worries. I worry about what people will think about my book (particularly if certain family members or friends will read it and then think I’m a total weirdo). I worry about cover design (Is it eye-catching enough? Does it pull in the readers I want?). I worry about getting bad reviews. And I worry about the next book I’m writing.
These worries feel very big and real to me. Sometimes they even keep me up at night.
But then I’ll read a book by a writer who changes everything for me.
Every morning when I open my inbox a landslide of emails from the online writing community pour out. Blog posts, newsletters, classes and programs and retreats. And then I jump on social media and the wave continues: Advice and instructions on character development, plotting your plot, finessing the end and then going back to that first page and polishing your opening hook until it sparkles and shines and catches the eye of every agent with an email address.
The online writing community is built upon the giving of good advice. I totally get that. As a writing coach with a writing blog, I’m one of those writers handing out pieces of that advice. It definitely has a place, and it definitely can be helpful.
When I started writing my first novel I was scared to death. I didn’t even know it was a novel at that time, but I was terrified nonetheless. I was afraid of sounding stupid, of discovering I had no talent. I was petrified that I was being utterly presumptuous by even calling what I was doing “writing.” Me—a writer—what a joke!
But what really gave me that sickening feeling of fear was the act of physically sitting down in front of the blank page. It was so emotionally uncomfortable I felt like I would rather being doing anything else.