Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Revealed: the SECRET to Authorial Productivity!

There's a reason the laundry is always done at my house...and its name is Fear.

Fear is the force that keeps writers from writing. Fear of not being clever enough, good enough, entertaining enough, compelling enough. Fear of not being able to live up to the brilliant bit we wrote last month or last year, fear of letting down our readers - real or imagined. Fear of never getting an agent, never selling, never seeing a story accepted. Fear of being dumped by an agent once you have one. Fear of rendering an editor speechless with remorse that she ever picked up your book. Gah, I could go on all day, but you get the drift and, if you're a writer, you are either painfully aware of what I'm talking about or in very, very deep denial.

When fear hits, I'll do anything, anything to avoid facing the keyboard. I set out looking for a task, and since I live with people who think that merely passing a hand over the stack of shirts in their drawers renders them soiled, causing them to toss entire bales of clothing into the wash each day, the task closest at hand is generally laundry.

So: clean clothes. Still fearful. No writing.

But wait! I have to do something Saturday that I haven't done before, something I'm very nervous about. I started worrying about it in earnest (as opposed to the low-level dread I've been carrying around since agreeing to this thing several months ago) about a week in advance. Suddenly, I found that I was writing great mounds of words. Paragraphs and scenes were multiplying at an alarming rate. Chapters practically wrote themselves.

I was stunned until I realized what was going on: I found something I fear more than writing.

That's it - the aha moment - and it can work for you, too! Think hard about what you fear the most, and then dive in headlong. It should be something
- outside your skill set
- possessing a high probability of failure
- which will lead to real and significant negative consequences to you.

Math tie you up in knots? Tell your SO that you'll be doing the taxes this year. Socially awkward? Vow to call a dozen acquaintances to make plans to get together. Let yourself go utterly? Join a gym and hire a trainer....

Suddenly, you've got an entirely new prospect to avoid. You'll do anything to escape it, right? - even write. That's correct: in your zeal to put off that onerous task, sitting down and writing some damn thing suddenly sounds appealing. Easy, even. Your fingers will practically dance across the keys.

Give it a try, and good luck. Me, I'm golden through Saturday. I'd be worried about what I'll do after that, except I stupidly - brilliantly? - committed to doing this once a month...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh Sophie! I love the cover of your book! I just pre-ordered it on Amazon. Can't wait to read it. It's a long way until August 4. Loved the excerpt. Best luck. Linda Eagleton