What I haven’t been doing, though, is working on my novel. I keep coming up with excuses to put it aside and do other projects, other activities, and anything else I can come up with to not work on it. It needs A LOT of work, more than I realized, and I’m a bit overwhelmed. The combination of trying to be perfect; comparing myself to established, seasoned authors; and having doubts about my own ability shuts down my ability and want to finish the novel. In other words, I’m scared.
My six-year-old just finished up swimming lessons on Friday. He went from refusing to go in further than the first step of the pool to jumping off the side into the water with no one to catch him in a week. I’m amazed and proud of my little boy. He was so scared of swimming and the pool before last week, and his transformation made me realize I am no different with my writing.
Sure, I have a short story already published and another one on the way, but they are both in anthologies with some pretty talented writers. Both stories can hide in the back of the room and not draw attention. But a novel is on my own with no one to catch me. I can’t get past that first step.
My son is no Michael Phelps. He’s barely swimming, but he has moved past the clinging-to-someone’s-body-with-a-death-grip stage and kicks his little legs underwater to the side of the pool. Is he still scared? Yes. But he’s learned he can do it on his own and will overcome his fear with more practice.
So I’m taking my own swimming lessons. I made the mistake of diving in before knowing how to doggie paddle, but this time, I will take it more slowly. First, I will wade in with an outline of where I want the story to go. Then, I’ll use the kickboard and start kicking out the scenes, one-by-one until I reach the end. Next, I’ll put my head underwater and edit my revised manuscript. Then, I’ll learn to take strokes as I get feedback from beta readers. Finally, I’ll swim from one end of the pool to the other as I make the last of my edits and changes. At the end, I’ll have earned my certificate of achievement with a finished and completed novel, ready for querying.
I will push past the kicking and screaming stage, the clinging-for-life stage, and finish my revisions. I will be stronger and less scared on the other side of that book pool.
I’d like to hear from you. Let me know what got you over the fear and finished that book.
Happy writing ~ Jen