Fighting through Fear

There’s no shortage of blog posts and articles on writers’ block at any time, but there seem to be a lot of them now, with the new year. I’m one of those who doesn’t believe in writers’ block as a thing in and of itself, but I experienced a bit of block myself this week, when it came time to do the assignment for the writing workshop I’m currently taking.

Last week’s assignment I pretty much put off to the last minute, and wound up dashing off something I didn’t really find interesting, that I suspected wasn’t very good. The instructor called me on it (though nicely), which I totally expected.

This week’s assignment was a challenging one, and I put it off too.

I was blocked on it, and when I took a minute to think about it, I realized it was because I didn’t want to throw out more crap and get called on it again. But what that really was, was good old fear.

I believe that’s what’s behind most of what we call writers’ block. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of getting bad reviews, if we publish. Fear of rejection, if we’re sending materials to agents or publishing houses. Fear of… I don’t know. It’s kind of irrational when I think about it. As this very instructor has said in other workshops, what is there really to fear? It’s not like an agent, editor, or reader is going to hunt us down and shoot us for writing something not so good. If we send something to an editor or agent and it’s no good, it’s not like they’ll remember it–or the writer. Or if we self-publish, neither will readers, if they read it at all. And I have zero illusions that the instructor for my workshop remembers anything that students send in for these short, 200-400 word assignments. That’s just silly.

This week’s assignment was to write about someone in a blizzard. It helped that we had our first, real snow of the winter last night (one that’s pretty but didn’t stick to the roads, my favorite kind!). That led me to think of some cool Ohio history–something that interests me–so I wrote about a girl in the Blizzard of 1950 and sent it off. And yes, once I got going, it was fun to write, getting all those historical details in without coming out and writing a dateline. Here’s hoping that will show through for the instructor, because I’d like to think I’m learning something in that workshop. 🙂

What I’ve been reading: Still working on the same novel as last week, so I’ll discuss after I finish.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: Here are last week’s goals, and how I did.

  1. Finish two more scenes on the novella – Done
  2. Complete last week’s assignment for the workshop- Done
  3. Watch the workshop lesson videos for next week – Done
  4. BONUS: Start the following scene in the novella – Done

Yes, really! I met all of them, even the bonus. It helped that I finally kicked the last of the crud last weekend, and have been feeling better this week (two weeks is an improvement over last time I got this sick, so my supplements must be helping :)).

So this week’s goals are:

  1. Finish the next scene in the novella
  2. Watch the workshop lesson videos for next week
  3. BONUS: Start the following scene in the novella.

These look less than last week, but I expect the scene to be a long one, and I have plans all day Saturday, so taking that into consideration. Luckily, it’s the last week for the workshop, so no assignment.

What about you–have you had to fight through fear lately, whether writing or something else? Did the fear turn out to be something silly, and what did you do? How are you doing with whatever goals you have so far this new year, whether writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Misfit Monday: Why We Lurk

My daughter spends a lot of time on the Internet. In fact, it’s one of her favorite ways to relax and take a break between homework assignments and school projects. Her favorite place online is Tumblr, and she follows many bloggers there. She also hangs out in the Loli fashion community, is a devoted fan of Homestuck, and keeps up on Facebook, where she occasionally posts a status update or shares a funny picture.

Yet for all the time she spends on the Loli forums and on Tumblr, she never comments. Ever.

Anyone who runs a blog or other online community knows that out of the people who visit a site, only a fraction leave a comment. Talking with my daughter solidified why.


Yep, pure and simple fear. Of saying something stupid. Of inadvertently offending someone. Of Liking something you might honestly like, but don’t want associated with your online presence, like the political posts that are all that is on Facebook lately, it seems. Sometimes it’s the simple worry that “I don’t have anything to contribute to this conversation,” so we don’t comment, out of fear that someone will call us out for that. (And in some less-friendly venues, they will.) It’s sort of like a reverse social anxiety – instead of being afraid to go out lest someone make fun of us to our face, we’re afraid of looking stupid while we’re sitting alone in our own homes.

I totally get this. Because you see, I used to be a lurker. For all of the above reasons. And yes, I’ve posted stuff online that didn’t come out right – although hopefully that hasn’t happened in a long time.  Then I read Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone and took her class, where she convinced authors of the need to be accessible to readers by having good content online… and the need to connect with each other. And you know what? It’s fun! And so far, I don’t think I’ve made too much an idiot of myself.

That’s not to say it’s been easy.  The urge to just lurk is a temptation I still fight daily. I’m not an outgoing person offline – I’m much more likely to hang on the fringe of a group and just listen. Online, I’m pretty much the same. So it’s taken effort, and is a work in progress.

What about you? Are you a reformed lurker, or has participating always come easily to you? What are some of the things you’ve done to make it easier to get out there and participate in conversation? Have you ever said something stupid online? If you lurk for some other reason, what is it?

And to all you lurkers, this is an invitation to pop in- no need to worry about if you’re “contributing” to the conversation – just say hi, if you want. As long as what you post isn’t rude, disrespectful or spammy, I’ll approve it. Whether you’re a lurker or not, I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

ROW80: Working Through Fear

Ever have that feeling where you haven’t done something for a long time… it’s something you know how to do, yet when you get back to it, it’s downright scary?

That’s sort of how my writing went this week. I accomplished my fixes and release of Time’s Fugitive, no problem. I did Michele’s cover design (she loved it – yay!). And when I could put off my writing workshop no longer, I dug back into How to Write a Series.

It went slowly at first, because it was making me think things through on my series that I frankly, had no idea of. I had to do some brainstorming. Something I haven’t done much of for my writing in the past couple of years.

Fortune's Foe by Michele StegmanThen I got to the last task in Lesson Two, Part Three, and it stopped me cold.

That task was: “Write scene one of the first book.”

I froze. I procrastinated. I played Spider Solitaire. I farted around on Facebook and Twitter. I read several blogs. I downloaded WriteWay Pro, because I’ve been wanting to try it, and it made sense to try it with a new book. I read through some of the documentation, and set up my book.

My husband left for the AMVETS hall, and I dropped my daughter off at a friend’s house. Then I could delay no longer.

I had to do something I haven’t done in over two years: write new material.

By the time I got a few paragraphs down in my shiny new software, my husband had returned from the AMVETS hall, and turned on the TV. So I put on my headphones and kept going. I will admit, it wasn’t all a real scene – much of it is written in “blocking it out” form, a technique I learned years ago from Liz Bemis, and more recently read about on Rachael Aaron’s blog. I stopped for a few minutes to watch a car chase on Hawaii-five-o (hey, it was a Camaro!), but an hour later, I had my scene sketched out.

Here’s how my week’s progress went:

  • Make fixes and re-upload Time’s Fugitive – Done!
  • Finish book cover I’m designing for historical romance author Michele Stegman – Done! Check it out, above…
  • Complete Lesson 2 of How to Write a Series – partly
  • Three interval workouts and two shorter workouts – uhhh, not so good; I wasn’t feeling well a couple days this week.
  • Track exercise and consumption – also done about halfway.
  • Bonus: Cover for Hangar 18: Legacy

Now I’m looking forward into doing more digging with How to Write a Series.

Here are my plans for this week:

  • Complete print layout and print cover design for Time’s Fugitive
  • Complete Lesson 2 of How to Write a Series
  • Three interval workouts and two shorter workouts
  • Track exercise and consumption
  • Bonus: Upload Time’s Fugitive print book to Lightning Source
  • Bonus: How to Write a Series, Lesson 3
  • Bonus: Cover for Hangar 18: Legacy


Overall goal progress:

  • Release Time’s Fugitive, in both ebook and print – Ebook done. Print interior started.
  • Complete Holly Lisle’s How to Write a Series workshop – in progress.
  • Bonus: Any planning/outlining of new book, beyond workshop exercises – on hold until other goals accomplished
  • Release Hangar 18: Legacy – OR – release Times Two (Time’s Enemy/Time’s Fugitive box set) as an ebook – on hold until other goals accomplished
  • Bonus: Both of the above – on hold until other goals accomplished

How about you – have you ever stopped doing something for an extended period of time – then found it scary to start back into it? I’d love to hear from you! What kind of goals are you setting for this round of ROW80 – or if you’re not a writer, or not doing the ROW, for this spring?