Friday, 28 March 2014

Changing Habits ... The One That Scares Me ....

I've had some success recently in changing a few habits.  I'm drinking less and working out more ... and if you'd asked me a year ago if these were on my Top 10 list you would have been given a very enthusiastic thumbs up.  I'm very proud of myself for making 2014 a year for starting in on some positive changes.

But the premiere spot on the Top 10 list has been reserved for something very special ... I want to complete and submit my first novel.    And I have not yet accomplished that feat.

Writing scares me.

I'm a person with a day job.  I'm a Project Manager and I've moved around to no fewer than 4 organizations in the last 8 years.  Getting fired doesn't scare me.  Been there, done that ... I'll find a new job.  Quitting my job and starting at a new place doesn't scare me.  Been there, done that ... I'll make new friends.

But writing?  Writing scares me.

I'm not half as good as I want to be, and I'm completely paralyzed by that.

The smart girl inside me ... the girl who's figured out how to make a pretty great living at a job she's moderately passionate about, knows that this is a terrible excuse.  If you want to be good at something, you practice.  No one ever got good at something by avoiding it.  But avoid it, I do.  I watch myself struggle with words on the page and I wonder if it should be this hard.  If I was a talented writer, would I wrestle with it this much?? Should it be this difficult to get me to sit in the chair and write if this was my calling?

The truth is, writing is unlike any other career.  I've always succeeded at the day jobs because I understand there's a Boss. And he/she wants certain things, and I'm pretty good at figuring out what they need and delivering.  But writing doesn't work like that.  There is no Boss except me ... and I'm not a very strict boss. I accept every excuse that's presented.  Don't feel like you've outlined the chapter well enough to write it? Well ... take more time.  Don't feel like you've got the logistics of the scene nailed down?  Well, take the time to work it out.  Think you need to rewrite something back in Chapter One to really explain the protaganist's motivation?  Feel free to go back and do that.

I'm the Queen of making excuses ... and sadly, I'm also the Queen at listening to them ...

April is about making a habit of writing.  I have no idea how I'll do on that front.  I can tell you I have a plan ... which is important ... but I've made lots of plans over the years ... the problem for me is sticking to them.

Writing still scares me.  Wish me luck.


  1. Nikki,

    Hard to believe but Annette and I just finished an email conversation about this very thing. She asked if I had read your blog and it's like the three of us share one mind. Oh dear, maybe that's what's wrong. 3 people/1 brain?

    Anyway, I've cut and pasted the email I sent to her earlier today:

    Annette, (Nikki)

    I would think for you, and anyone really struggling to finish, perfectionism is the culprit. Thinking it should be good on the first try. Thinking it should be easier. Thinking that if this book of your heart doesn't get published you're a failure. Thinking that if you do get published and don't make it BIG then you're a failure. The list goes on and on...

    And you know what? All of those things could happen. But so what? You have other stories in you. You'll have other ideas. You'll write more books. ( I'm talking to myself here as well as you )

    It doesn't matter what other people write or finish. You just set yourself up for failure if you spend too much time thinking about the "end" goal, how many words, how many books, OMG the whole indie pub is passing me by and I'm not going to have a chance to make the money everyone else is. Do you know what that is? It's fear. And it's hard to write with all that fear running around your head. And pretty soon the last thing you want to do is write because you feel all this negative emotion around the writing. It's exhausting. So relax. Write the book. Fall in love with the characters and write their story. And you finish when you finish.

    I've been thinking a lot about the same thing this week. For some reason I was just doing anything else but writing. It almost made me sick to sit down and try to write. Once I started thinking about it, I think it was all the pressure I'd put on myself. Write every day. Write from 7-9 ( which is actually a good thing and I'll continue that) Soon as I fell short of my goals, I started beating myself up. What does that accomplish? Just makes me avoid writing all together.

    There, that's my psychobabble for the day

  2. Nikki, I second everything Anne said. I've been struggling with the whole perfectionism thing, and trying to get past it so I can finally get something out there soon too. It's not easy, but we can do this!

  3. Anne - totally agree with everything! I love the part where you aid when you fall short of goals you start beating yourself up and then it makes you avoid it more ... how often do I do that? A lot, sadly ...

    I know we can do it too Annette ...and we'll look back on this as part of the journey ... I'm just really looking forward to the "looking back" part ... being in the middle of it is always so tough :)

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