Writing is scary every step of the way from starting, finishing to submitting a novel. Kali Anthony talks about the doubts which plague us all and the importance of fortitude.
I was contributing to the weekly #AussieRomChat through the Romance Writer’s of Australia Facebook group. The topic was “When Life Screws You Up.” Questions were posed for writers and
authors such as:
When life throws a setback to your goals, how do you respond? How do you cope with an impossible deadline?Do you believe everything happens for a reason? Have you ever thought of giving up writing and what stopped you? Or, difficult times require a support network. How do you build one?
The answers were interesting and insightful. But one thing that struck me all throughout, a continuing theme of all answers, was that writing required courage.
Now, some people might scoff at that. Courage seems to be solely aligned with acts of bravery. Firefighters rescuing kittens from burning buildings. Acts of obvious heroism. But let’s look at the definition. Courage is, “the ability to do something that frightens”. And I’m of the view that courage can be found in simple acts, and one of those is sitting down every day at your manuscript and writing.
Sure, it may not be saving the world, but it’s not as easy as it looks to outsiders... *insert manic laughter here.*
Some days, when I sit down to write, I feel quite sick and extremely anxious. Where am I going with the story? How am I going to write this? I actually can't write this….AAAARRRGH.
Let’s set aside why I would even contemplate writing when the process can make me feel physically ill (hint - it's those pesky character voices in my head getting shouty when I don’t write their story). Sometimes the story frightens me, yet I persist. Authors do it every single day, all round the world. Don’t believe me? Talk to them. Read this month's article by Aja and Carolyn Hector Hall, Confessions of a Writer. I thought I was alone. I’m not. Even the best, suffer the fear. But they overcome that fear and work through it.
And you know what? That takes courage.
How do you feel when you receive a bruising critique of your manuscript? What about a form rejection when you thought your story was awesome? And don't talk to me about hitting send in the first place, because that's terrifying of itself. How do you pick yourself up to keep writing, when it feels like you’re rubbish?
"Hold on a sec." I hear a little birdie saying (no, not one of my characters, they don’t talk to me about this stuff, silly, and anyhow, they're not a bird) "Could picking yourself up, and dusting yourself off then starting again take…I don’t know…Courage?"
Why yes, little birdie. Yes. It. Could.
What about getting in touch with your favourite authors, or any authors, and starting a conversation? Thought of making new friends at a writer’s conference? For some people that may not be hard but what if you’re an introvert like so many writers and authors I know? The type of person who finds social interaction exhausting and interaction with new people, terrifying? I mean, that was - still is - me. I quietly watched a whole lot of authors I loved on social media and gently dipped my toe in the deep, dark waters waters of actually talking to them. In the end, of course, I found out just how generous and supportive the writing community was, but in the beginning it felt as if I was turning up to these people’s front doors as an unannounced stranger in a clown suit and knocking. For me starting the conversation at all, took immense amounts of you know what.
Yep, courage with a capital C.
How about when your writing takes you away from your family and household tasks? Those guilt plagued days when you don’t do the things you should be doing, to get the words down. Okay, I have been known to clean the bathroom to avoid writing, but I digress...Ahem. When people tell you that writing’s not a real job, and you should focus on paid employment and not your passion. Or that writing romance is not "real" writing at all. How do you tell those people to *politely, not so politely*
C’mon, you know the answer but I’ll be nice and whisper like it's a secret.
Writing is glorious and terrifying and sickening and consuming. It drags you to the pits of despair then shoots you soaring to the stars with a whoop of joy. When you're scared, take heart. Remember what Winston Churchill said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Suck in a deep breath, pull on your grown up pants and reach for those blinking stars.
You can do it. Be the hero/ine of your own story. You know what it takes now.
Kali Anthony is an aspiring author and senior editor for The Pink Heart Society. You can follow Kali on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Does writing scare you? Do you think it takes courage? How do you overcome fear? We'd love to hear from you here or on social media!