What is holding you back?

If I may ask a question, what is holding you back? 

Imagine, if you will, that you are writing your novel (or short story or poem or whatever) and everything is going marvelously. Words are flying out of your fingertips (figuratively speaking, of course) and the writing is all coming together. 

Then, quite suddenly, something has happened. You know what you are planning to write, but the words have stopped flowing. 

[Open W/ A Member of Team Cap ] “Yes, I understand what your point is, but signing the Accords could prevent many horrible things.” His forehead wrinkled and he looked at them with slight understanding. —“There is a point to my actions.”

This is a bit of a problem.

If you've been writing for a while, you may decide to just take a break. (We're still imagining this scenario.) You take a break, have a cookie, get some fresh air. You come back ready to write. Fully prepared to attack this thing on which you are stuck. 

You attack with all the grace of a two-headed hippopotamus. (It's a metaphor... I think.)

The words are coming. But they don't flow like before. You have to force them out. They feel wrong. Then the whole story feels wrong. 

You doubt yourself. Sometimes, it will get to the extent of wondering if you even can write or should you. 

Image result for avengers facepalm gif

Now, sometimes this is just writerly doubt. All writers, even published ones, go through this. Sometimes this is just you not being excited about the thing you have to write. Sometimes this is your subconcious telling you something is wrong with the story.

There are many reasons why this writing is not fun at the moment. But there is one specific reason that I would like to address.

Who are you writing this story for? 

I am not speaking of your general audience. I am not speaking of whom you plan to dedicate this story to.

Are you writing for yourself?

If you are stuck and you begin to fear that someone will not like this story, whether that be a specific person or a general someone, then there is a problem. That is not writing for yourself.

You cannot write a story under the fear that you are writing things no one wants to read. You cannot write under the fear that this is bad writing, even if it actually is bad writing.

In the terminology of author John Green, you must allow yourself to suck. (This is from the same man who says "Don't forget to be awesome.")

What does this mean? It means that it is okay to write badly, especially in a first draft.

First drafts are full of potential. Much like a cake mix.
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You have eggs, sugar, butter, flour, oil/butter, and baking powder. Then you mix those things up. You have a bowl of goop that might taste good, but will taste much better once you pour it into a pan and cook it.

But if you spend the whole time you are mixing it up thinking that eggs are terrible and flour is bland and sugar is the only good thing-- how could these things ever come together to make something good and what if this person doesn't like it... you will not enjoy baking.

Likewise, if you spend writing time worrying, you will not enjoy writing.

So, what do you do?

You don't worry.

1.You write this story for yourself. Right now, you are the one hearing this story. Write it to entertain yourself. Find out what makes you excited and write that. You don't have to keep your writing and the process to yourself, but bear in mind that if you share too much, you may be putting too much pressure on yourself.

2. Allow the story to feel wrong for now. Everything is fixable. Chances are that your writing is not as bad as you think it is. Writers have a tendency to overreact sometimes (we have a good imagination). 

3. Writers also have the tendency to take things personally. After all, what you write is a small piece of you and something you've worked hard on. But just because someone dislikes your writing does not mean they dislike you. This is very good to remember if the person you’re worried about is someone whose opinions you value, like those of a parent or a good friend.

Your job right now is to not worry about anyone else. You can burn that bridge when you get to it. (Are my metaphors getting any better?)

Your job is to write your story and have fun doing it.

Image result for avengers captain america thor gif

What is holding you back? 


Postscript: Our September Twitter chat is next week! (Friday, the 23rd, 8:30-9:30 PM EDT)  Join us!

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