Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I'm scared of my own book

Confession time: I'm scared of my own book. Well, I guess it's not really a book, since it hasn't exactly been written yet. I'm scared of the book I want to write. The book I'm supposed to be working on. How scared? Well, I'm sitting here blogging instead of writing it so...

It's a universally known fact that creative types, including (and perhaps especially) writers, are horrible procrastinators. I used to think this didn't apply to me. After all, my first Serious Book (as in, the one I wanted to get right and didn't write as a teenager) went from brainstorm to first draft in two months. And I couldn't stop working on it... Day in and day out, I was futzing and fiddling and trying to make it right. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write, until I couldn't imagine not writing. So that meant the Procrastination Curse skipped over me, right?

Turns out, it only missed me because I was too eager and clueless for it to have anything to latch onto. I had no expectations, and no one expecting anyone from me, which meant I could just mess around with my words with zero stakes involved.

Then I got published. But I still didn't know anything and remained eager and clueless... slippery enough that the old Curse didn't have anything to grasp. I knew a thing or two by now about how the editorial process and everything worked, but was still feeling my way around the industry, figuring out how the publishing world worked and all.

Then I got published again, and something happened: I started getting ambitious. I started holding myself to a higher standard than "oh, this is just for fun and I hope others happen to enjoy what I create." The writing stopped being about me having fun... It started being about the readers. I wanted to make something that lots of people would enjoy. And yes, I wanted a big house deal with a juicy advance and a cover that would get featured on all the big book blogs. I wanted a spot on mainstream bestseller lists and blurbs from famous people. I wanted it all.

And so with this added pressure on myself, I started brainstorming my next project. It became so awesome in my head that I couldn't wait to work on it. But when I finally settled down and tried to, I was paralyzed. I found every excuse possible not to do it. Because as long as it existed only in my head, it was perfect. The moment I start trying to make it real, it'll be just another Crappy First Draft.

I'm afraid I'll screw it up. I'm afraid I can't pull it off. I'm afraid it'll be disappointed in me. Yes, I just personified my own unwritten book.

Yet the longer I stew in my fears, the worse they get. I think I remember reading somewhere about this procrastination cycle of doom. You don't do something because as long as it doesn't really exist, it's perfect. But because you're not working on it, you feel like a loser. And because you feel like a loser, you don't work on it. Etc. Etc.



  1. Mary, get off Blogger already and write your-- oh, wait. You said that already. ;) You can do it though! Remember, you can't revise it into what you see in your head- and I know you will get it there- until you've got those words on the page. Go, Mary! =)

  2. LOL. I so understand what you're saying! I hope you can break through this particular phase soon. You are a terrific writer and I know you can write something even better than is sitting in your head!