One of the things that has always hindered my writing is page fright. What is page fright? It’s this irrational fear when you sit down to start writing on whatever you’ve been working on. In fact, the fear might cause you not to even sit down at your chair. Sometimes, there’s a sense of dread when you even think about writing.
So, what causes page fright? I’m not sure I know exactly, but I have some ideas. We have to first understand WHY we fear before we can overcome the fear. Here are some things I’ve come up with.
- You don’t think you have enough words in the story to make a full novel. Solution: This is one of my biggest fears. I’ve overcome this fear by deciding I don’t care how long a story is going to be. It’s going to be as long as it wants to be. I love writing novellas. Writing was so much more fun when I didn’t worry about length. Then someone told me novellas didn’t sell well, and I needed to write novels. I’ve struggled with page fright over every novel I’ve written. Now I say that’s a bunch of baloney (in the South, we don’t say “bologna”). These days, readers like to have different lengths to choose from, and novellas are great reads for busy people.
- THAT author writes 3,000 words in one sitting. You can only write 500, so you must not be a very good or productive writer. Solution: Stop worrying about what others are doing. Everyone works at his/her own pace. There are so many factors involved in how many words you can write. You may have more obligations than another author. Your hands might give out sooner than someone else’s. You might simply like to think things out longer. Whatever the reason you write more slowly than you THINK you should, it’s YOUR reason, and it’s legitimate (unless you are playing on Facebook between paragraphs).
- You might get writer’s block. Solution: Sit down at the computer and write SOMETHING. If you’re a plotter, you already have some idea of where to go. If you’re a pantser (don’t tell Kait, or she’ll get an eye twitch), just let the ideas flow. You can fix any problems later. You have to start somewhere.
- You’re afraid you’ll work your butt off and put your whole soul into this story, and no one will buy it. Solution: Suck it up (oh, no, I just sounded like Chuck Wendig there, sorry). We all face this possibility. With the huge saturation of the market with self-published books, it’s very hard to be found. Your job is to write the best book you can write. Not the best book someone else can write, but the best book YOU can write. If you let fear stop you, then you’ll never know what you could have accomplished. I believe the best way to be found is to put as many books as you can out there. If you give up after one book because it didn’t sell like you thought it should, you might miss out on success. This isn’t an instant thing, especially these days. You have to be in this for the long haul. Have a five or ten year plan, not a plan to quit if your first book doesn’t do well.
Do any of these sound familiar to you? Or do you have other reasons to fear the page? If you DON’T have page fright, let us know how you DO feel when you sit down to write. I would love to hear your comments.