How to Survive the Fear of Creating

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How to Survive the Fear of Creating

fear and creativity

I have to tell you a secret:

Writing scares the shit out of me.

Unfortunately (maybe?), it's also something I love dearly, and is The Thing I want to do with my life. It's also my most proficient skill.

I first began to realize that writing scares me about ten years ago. Sessions of penning fiction at my computer would trigger the eating disordered behavior I was fighting at the time, sending me into a binge or a frenzy of over-exercising and food restriction.

November was the worst time of the year for me, because I would participate in National Novel Writing Month. I'd enter the month with so much excitement, but by the time NaNoWriMo had finished, I'd find my mental health compromised.

I eventually quit writing.

It wasn't worth it, I reasoned. Once I'd come to the understanding of how writing triggered me, I didn't see how I could continue doing it, when it seemed to be harming me.

So I quit.

But I missed it. Words meant (and mean) so much to me. They were my first love. I wanted them.

I wrote poetry. That was easier. I could create them in short bursts, and I didn't have to sustain mentally in the way that a novel-length project requires. I fell (back) in love with writing.

I'd found a way to write without feeling like I was hurting myself.

And yet . . . I still missed writing fiction. Every time I picked up a fiction book, I burned to write my own stories again.

I decided to experiment.

I told myself I would write a romance novel. My previous novels had been rather dark and emotional. Why not try writing something lighter that had to end with a happily ever after?

I tried it.

I did it.

THE LIGHT BETWEEN US was the result.

My mental health seemed to slip a bit . . . but certainly not as much as before. After all, at that point I had years' more therapy under my belt, as well as a prescription anti-depressant in my aresenal.

More than that, I had developed a greater self-awareness. That helped a lot.

I was so proud of myself. I'd done it. Pressed through and realized my dream.

I published THE LIGHT BETWEEN US. I made a lot of mistakes. But still, readers seemed to like it. I was thrilled.

I wanted to write more.

It took me over three years to write and publish my next book and sequel to my first, FINDING ME AND YOU. So . . . what the hell happened, right?

The fact is that, even though I have grown so much as a person, writing fiction still scares me. There is something about creating stories that, while they are largely happy, require me to dig into my depths to produce.

There is darkness in my depths. There is abuse and loss and whispered lies from my childhood that became my inner voice.

My insides love to lie to me.

I suspect this is the same for every creator to some degree, no matter what demons hide inside. After all, that's why we have books like The War of Art and Big Magic (subtitle: Creative Living Beyond Fear), right?

Making shit is scary.

Making shit that you hope is good and then releasing it into the world is even scarier.

And there is so much that is unknown, especially at the beginning. Sure, the first 5,000 words of any project usually is pure fun for me . . . but it also feels like jumping off a cliff without knowing if you're wearing a parachute. You don't know if you'll be able to create the book you envision, and if you do, if people will like it or buy it or if your mom will read it and be mortified by that sexy scene or or or or.

Writing -- creating -- is an act of faith.

I'm not very good at believing these days. I've never been good at believing in myself.

However, I am making peace more and more with the fact that the interplay of fear and faith is an inevitable part of the creation process.

That's not easy.

But it's part of the gig. For me, anyway. Maybe for you, too?

To get through, I make sure to support myself in specific ways:

1. Try to Nail the Basics

Writing is hard work. It takes a toll on the body as well as the mind. So when I'm cranking out a novel-length project, I try to nail the basics of self-care: getting enough water, nutrition, movement, recreation, and sleep (this one is extra important!). You can't draw from an empty well, and that statement is only cliché because it's so true.

2. Work at a Sustainably Pace

Writing books at breakneck speed is becoming more and more trendy. From NaNoWriMo to how-to books teaching how to write a full-length book in a week, speed is the name of the game, especially for indie authors. And for good reason -- the more books you produce, the more you can ride momentum to success. You keep your name fresh in readers' minds, which is fantastic. And obviously, more books means more earning potential.

However, just because it's fashionable, logical, or smart business doesn't mean that you have to write fast. I imagine that quickly penned books are going to require more editing anyway. And speed is certainly not worth it if it breaks you and burns you out.

So write sustainably. Pick a daily word count goal and stick with it. Personally, I find that 2,000 words a day is the most I can write on a daily basis without burning out in the course of writing a single book.

3. Take Inspiration Breaks

We all know the advice -- fill your creative well. Well, do it! While trips to your local museum or that walk along the river might seem frivolous, they are essential to the creativity process. Take in beauty to turn out beauty.

For me, while I am creatively fed by museums, theater, and musical performances, the form of nourishment that is most accessible and essential to me are books. To write fiction, I must read fiction. And I don't read only fiction, but I have to make sure that I consume fiction regularly to support my own writings.

4. Learn

For me, a lot of the fear in the creative process is fear of the unknown. While I can't do much about that, I can mitigate it by developing myself professionally. I try to make sure that I keep learning and growing as a writer by trying new techniques and reading craft books. I'm currently reading Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing by Helen Cixous.

This can also help you learn more about your fear. Don't be scared of exploring your fear, becoming more aware of it. Self-knowledge is only an asset. Finding out what you're afraid of and why is a way to turn your fear into strength.

5. Find Community

Finally, surround yourself with supportive community. They don't have to be writers, but it's a definite bonus if they're creative and/or entrepreneurial and/or ambitious in some way. Not only will they be great sounding boards, but their risks and breakthroughs and successes will inspire your own (and yours them). Don't go it alone. Find your people, online or in person, and form a creative cadre.

Fear in writing is normal. Fear in writing is part of the process. It sucks, but that's the gig. The prize waiting on the other side of the fear, however, is more than worth exploring your fear's genesis and enduring its discomfort.

How do you press through and into your fear? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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A LIGHT BETWEEN US Short Story

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A LIGHT BETWEEN US Short Story

I'm back at it. Writing, I mean. It's both comforting and terrifying. Is that normal? 😂✨☕️

I took some time off after publishing FINDING ME AND YOU  because honestly? I was terrified. Terrified of having a book out there, of it being not good enough...and of it being good, too.
There was a hefty dose of vulnerability hangover in there, too. It takes guts to publish a book, I believe, and it's something that I forget -- that it's an act of courage and hope, which is a large energy expenditure, and which necessitates a recovery period.

I didn't give myself a recovery period.

So it forced itself on me.

Whoops.

So...I'm learning (or trying to) from this experience and insight, and now I'm back at the keyboard.

Right now I'm writing a short companion story to THE LIGHT BETWEEN US  books, told from the perspective of Padme, a favorite supporting character of readers. I'm having fun getting in her head a little more, and also revealing further peeks into Ruth and Derek's lives together.

And you know how I said it would be a short story? Well . . . I wrote 2,000 words of it yesterday, and it feels like it's barely begun. So maybe it'll end up being a novella. We'll see.

I'm about to post those 2,000 words in a separate patrons-only post on Patreon, so be sure to sign up to get access to it -- it's just $1 a month, and it helps me pay for the significant costs that go into indie publishing a great book. Thank you for considering it!

And with that . . . back into the writing den I go. And by "writing den," I mean Starbucks, armed with a mug of drip coffee that's as big as my face.

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Mabel's Story Begins

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Mabel's Story Begins

I've begun.

Writing, that is. Or really, planning, and then writing. A new story.

Mabel's story.

I'm really excited about this one. I don't want to reveal too much yet, as I'm still in the plotting stage, but I can tell you that ghosts and a love triangle will be involved.

I've also created a Pinterest board to hold all my visual inspiration for it. Want to take a peek inside my brains? Here ya go:

I've also started a Patreon page where you can partner with me in the production of such books like Mabel's. I need help financing a professional editor, and for as little as $1 a month, you can help me with that -- AND get instant access to ALL of my writing AS I write it.

So you don't have to wait for a couple months to read Mabel's story. You can start reading its early drafts right away.

Sound good? Get all the details and sign up here!

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Release Day + A Book Sale!

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Release Day + A Book Sale!

It's release day!!

FINDING ME AND YOU  is officially out.

Thank you so much to everyone who pre-ordered...I hope you love reading it! Some books I write for me, and some books I write for you. This one was all for you. 

To help celebrate, for today only, THE LIGHT BETWEEN US is *free* for Kindle. This is the book that comes before FINDING ME AND YOU. Happy Valentine's Day! 

Get THE LIGHT BETWEEN US in print and on Kindle :: HERE.
Get FINDING ME AND YOU in print and on Kindle :: HERE

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The Playlist for FINDING ME AND YOU + What Comes Next

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The Playlist for FINDING ME AND YOU + What Comes Next

I absolutely love it when writers offer peeks into the process that went into my favorite books. It makes the stories come even more alive, and feel more personal and intimate. 

So I thought that I would do the same thing for you. Here is the playlist for Finding Me and You. I think it tells the story of Ruth and Derek in music quite well, although I'd love to hear what your take is on it once you've read the books. Listen for free on Spotify here, or checkout the playlist embedded at the end of this post.

I can't believe that FINDING ME AND YOU officially releases tomorrow. It will be available for Kindle and also in print, which I didn't think I'd be able to make happen, but am so happy that I did! 

While I'm so excited for tomorrow's release, my mind is already pressing on to the next. Yes -- the next book (!!!). I may write a short story with Padme (from THE LIGHT BETWEEN US and FINDING ME AND YOU) as the main character, or save that for another time and start something totally fresh.

It's so interesting -- tomorrow is the big day for you, my amazing readers, but the happiest day for me was three days ago, when I submitted the final manuscript of FINDING ME AND YOU and sat back in euphoric relief, the book out of my hands. And tomorrow, it will be in yours. It's going to be great, and while you're reading, I'll be getting back to the writing. Because it always comes back to the writing for me. And maybe you, too?

While you're waiting for the official release of FINDING ME AND YOU TOMORROW, be sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. The giveaway closes tonight!

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GIVEAWAY: Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

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GIVEAWAY: Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

Valentine's Day is drawing near, which means that so is the release of FINDING ME AND YOU, sequel to THE LIGHT BETWEEN US. I'm so excited! I can't wait to share the rest of Ruth and Derek's love story with you. 

To celebrate the release of FINDING ME AND YOU, I thought we'd have a little fun -- with a giveaway!! 

Enter our fun giveaway for a chance to win a $25* Amazon Gift Card!

To enter the giveaway, complete as many of the following options as possible. The more you do, the more chances you have to win! Be sure to check the corresponding box off as you complete each option so that your entries are registered.

Have fun, and good luck! The winner will be announced on February 14th -- the launch day of FINDING ME AND YOU. Yay!

 

*$25 USD

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A Sneak Peek Inside FINDING ME AND YOU

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A Sneak Peek Inside FINDING ME AND YOU

Here's a sneak peek at some of the writing I did on FINDING ME AND YOU today. And yep, it's a sex scene. Enjoy. :) 

Ruth threw herself onto the bed in the rustically decorated cabin, heaving a giant sigh of relief. Upon arrival at the ranch, she, Derek, and Padme had managed to not only evade her own parents, but had also beaten Derek’s parents back and had avoided meeting any more reuniting Stone family members. Derek had shown Padme to the cabin that his parents had designated for her, then led Ruth to the one they’d share.

“It’s quite progressive of your folks, giving us a cabin for the both of us,” said Ruth as Derek rummaged in his suitcase, extracting a fresh blue button down shirt, peeling his travel worn work attire off. “If it was my parents, they would’ve given us separate cabins even after the wedding.”

“My parents haven’t ever really been critical of my sex life,” said Derek, pausing topless. “They were hippies, did the whole free love thing. As long as I’m safe, they’re happy.”

Ruth lifted her head from the bed, her fiancé’s bare torso suddenly very appealing. With a sultry grin, she rose and crossed the forest green carpet to Derek, placing her hands on his chest. He dropped his old clothes onto the floor and tossed his clean shirt back into his suitcase and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her close.

“Well, Mr. Stone,” she murmured, leaning her lips up to the tender expanse of his neck, making him shiver. “Shall we thank your parents for their liberal views by practicing our own version of free love?”

Derek feigned shock, pulling back a little even while he tightened his grip around her belly. “Free love,” he said, mockingly aghast. “What are you not telling me?”

She laughed, and trailed feathery kisses along his jawline in response. 

He groaned, feeling his own response start to strain against the inside of his slacks. Twisting away from her teasing kisses, he found her lips with his and kissed her, hard. Ruth drew back for a moment with a little gasp, then caught her breath and returned the kiss just as firmly. 

Then their hands were flying, tugging at this buckle and releasing that clasp, fast and needy, their breath loud with desire in the cozy interior of the cabin. 

Free of their clothing, Ruth fell back onto the bed, tugging Derek on top of her, into her, a loud groan erupting from both of them in unison at the meeting. He retreated and slammed into her, rough and indelicate, and she nipped at his shoulder, his lips, moaning her approval. 

Everything inside of her began to close, to draw together, exquisite tension pulling her deepest places in before she exploded, loud and hard, arms and legs wrapped around her lover as he pumped into her, his own climax washing over him as he rode the waves of hers, melding his hoarse cries with hers, a tangle of salt and skin and desperate feeling.

They lay together, still entwined, tucked into one another as they listened to their breaths slow to the peace of cathartic relief.

Preorder FINDING ME AND YOU, or read the book that came before it, THE LIGHT BETWEEN US. Both available on Kindle!

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