Last night, I sat down at my laptop to pour my heart out. No, not into my novel, but into a deeply personal journal entry that would somehow give expression to the turmoil inside my soul. Does this sound dramatic? Perhaps so. But when you are a creative person, whether it be an artist or a writer or a photographer, you feel things deeply.
And when I do not write, I feel the pain - deeply.
All sorts of doubts and fears assaulted me last night. Actually, they've been hovering at the edge of my vision for the past few days. Why? I believe the answer is this: I am writing a thriller, something out of my comfort zone, something I've never really done before, and I am wondering if I bit off more than I can chew.
Until this point in my story (almost the 50K mark), I have done ok with the plot, putting the thrills in, the twists and turns, etc. But when I look back on it, I wonder if any of it is believable. And then I wonder, how can I make it better? And then I wonder, how can I make it more unique?And then I wonder, Am I plain nuts???
This is not the time to be doing that. Now is the time to just cover the canvas - i.e., get it down, cover the page, and edit later.
What if I'm not supposed to write a thriller? Even if I have a good idea, can I execute it successfully? There are times when I think it is just too darn hard - harder than any other novel I've written. Is this a sign that I should put it away? Concentrate on something else?
However...I love to read thrillers. Love, love, love them, and I always have these awesome ideas that I want to turn into novels. But the intricate plotting structure scares the ever-livin' crap out of me and I have yet to find a useful plotting method for them. Then I look at all the successful thriller writers like Daniel Silva, Ken Follett, Vince Flynn, etc., and I think, there is no way I can even compete.
All this thinking has gotten me to a terrible point: I'm frozen. I can't move forward and I can't move backward. I have avoided looking at the manuscript since Sunday. Each day that goes by, the fear increases. Thus, I haven't written anything since Sunday night.
This has created a dramatic shift in my world. If I cannot express my creativity on the page, I feel disoriented, unsettled, and profoundly disconcent. I am not sure what direction to go. I have another novel in the works that I haven't looked at in months, yet it is a good story - and decidedly very non-thriller. But I stopped working on that one because the thriller idea knocked my socks off and I wanted to get started on it right away.
I'm not burned out on writing. I want to write. I just feel paralyzed right now. Because let's face it: if I do finish writing this thriller, and an agent decides to represent me, and he/she sells my book, that means I will most likely have to produce another thriller for my second novel- and I am scared to death I won't be able to.
I'm trying to figure out some options on how to combat this paralyzing fear.
1) Sit down and make a detailed listing of my complex plot
2) Write angsty journal entries that no one will see - and give voice to my fears
4) Leave the thriller world for awhile and go back to the last novel
5) Say the heck with it, turn on the laptop, and just start writing
I'm thinking of trying #5 tonight and seeing how it goes.
The bottom line is this: I am a writer. And if I cannot write, it affects me in profound ways. I sometimes wish I wasn't a creative soul and didn't think and feel this deeply. But it's who I am, it's who God created me to be, so I need to embrace it in all its different facets.
What do you do when confronted by writing doubts and fears?