I’m Afraid (but not of the big bad wolf)

This is a blog post that has been on my mind for quite some time. Generally, the longer things stew inside my writerly brain, the clearer they become and the easier they are to write. Not so with this.

I want to talk about my personal journey with discouragement with regards to writing.

To begin, perhaps you should know a few things:

  1. I’ve been writing since the age of about 7.
  2. I was published by a semi-traditional publishing company at 17.

That was 7 years ago. For the past 7 years, I have slowly sunk into a mire of discouragement. My published book was supposed to be a series, and book two was finished, but my publishing company and I couldn’t see eye to eye and we parted ways.

I couldn’t seem to finish anything. Oh, I dabbled. I had lots of great ideas, but somehow, every single time, things got too tangled and I set aside the WIP for something else. This happened over and over again until my hard drive on my computer was full of half-finished novels. Most of the novels that my previous readers remember (Duchess, Render Me Flawless, Imperfect, Shards of Glass) are in those folders, neglected. I can’t write them.

So, for about 6 months, I wrote nothing. Nothing. I told myself at first that it was just a time to recharge and fill that proverbial well of inspiration. I’ve grown to love a few new authors, watched a handful of really great things on TV (well, Netflix), and recharged.

But I still couldn’t write. I knew that I’d fail. It would be such a shame to take another, untapped idea, and drive it into the ground. So I didn’t write. I thought about it, told myself I would, but . . . couldn’t. Didn’t.

As self-centered as it sounds, I missed being the author that all my writing friends looked up to. For a time, I was the only one in my circle of writers that was published, and let me tell you, it felt good. Like I’d accomplished what I’d set out to do. And then… the years passed. And no one came to me for advice, because I wasn’t writing, and I wasn’t getting published. . . and that added to the discouragement.

Until about two months ago. My fiance was encouraging me to write and I told him. “I’m afraid I can’t do it anymore. What if writing was supposed to help me get through my childhood but it’s not supposed to be a part of who I am as an adult?” The idea made me tear up, because I love writing.

So he challenged me. He chose an image on Pinterest, and we’d both write a story about it, less than 5000 words, with no deadlines, no pressure, and no expectations.
I procrastinated. I fiddled with ideas for a while. But it didn’t matter if it was awful. It probably would be, after not writing for 6 months and not writing seriously since before college.

But the little story that I wrote . . . it’s not perfect. The form is rough, the voice unoriginal, and the POV is frankly off. But . . . I did it. I finished something. For 4500 words I delved back into that world of creativity that I love and miss and in which I am so afraid of failing.

Mirror, Mirror isn’t publishable. But it’s my portal back into writing.

What about you? Have you ever been discouraged in writing? How did you overcome?

2 thoughts on “I’m Afraid (but not of the big bad wolf)

  1. I so feel you. *internet hugs* Firstly, hurray for that short story and getting back into writing at least as a start! I hope you press onward. 🙂

    I myself haven’t finished a novel in over three years and it’s starting to get me down, so boy do I ever understand that discouragement and fear! A couple of short stories and even a novella but it’s not the same… Worse, ever since this year started I’ve had such a case of burnout I’ve written less in the last six months than at any period longer than a month in the last six years. I’ve never been one to write a lot, but it’s usually been at least a slow, steady (ish) trickle of writing. So I understand because I’m going through this right now myself (perhaps at a lesser degree than you). I don’t have answers. I don’t how to overcome it. And yes, I’m afraid. I guess we just have to keep trying!

    Also, publishing is not the be-all-end-all. Just because you’re not publishing right now doesn’t mean your writing doesn’t have worth. 🙂 I have read unpublished books worth more than any published book out there. We all go through phases in life. I’m so impressed at your successes when you were younger, but I know for a fact that you’re an even better writer now. Publishing doesn’t define us. Writing does. 🙂

    Thanks for this post, it encouraged me to know I’m not alone, and it was brave and beautiful. Thanks and happy writing, Amanda. <3

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