Thursday, October 11, 2012

Writers Are Fearless

To be a writer you have to be fearless. You're delving into new, un-thought-of ideas, creating characters, surprising characters with twists and turns, writing scenes that make even the writer laugh or cry. And yet…most writers are not all that fearless. They worry no one will like what they write or the book won't sell or what they consider a sentence or plot point that will capture the reader will actually cause them to close the book.

But, despite all that, writers are still fearless. They keep moving forward, sitting at their computer or notepad and writing, day after day. They read and re-read what they wrote and make changes, a word or two here and there or even erasing an entire chapter or character. Personally, I don't know of any writer who writes from word one to The End without reading, re-reading, writing, and re-writing.

Writers are fearless, but not because they have no fear, but because they face those fears and keep moving forward. If they're stuck on a plot point and can't get past the problem, they turn to friends or fellow writers. If they find themselves struggling over paragraphs or sentences, they keep working on the section until it flows -- or they hire an editor to help them.

This is another area where writers have to be fearless. Working with an editor is not handing over your work for that editor to rewrite or re-mold your characters. Never fear, that's not what editors do. If an editor changes something and you don't know why, ask. If you disagree, you don't have to accept the change. It's your book. If you accept the change … it's still your book. Hopefully better. But still your book.

In this month of Halloween and scaring, be brave. Write what you want to write. Try your hand at something new -- a short story or a poem or a month of scary posts on your blog. Maybe it's writing in a genre you've never tried. Or maybe it's approaching a local book club and asking if they would read your book then have you talk.

Or perhaps it's totally re-writing a book you've been working on, but not getting anywhere. Tear it apart, analyze the structure, do bios on the main characters, whatever you have to do, whatever you've been scared of doing.

But before you do, save the original. Work on a copy. Totally losing that original through a computer crash or hitting delete instead of save is about the only thing that can instill true fear in a writer. 
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 Helen Ginger is the author of Angel Sometimes, as well as 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series. You can find two of her short stories in the anthology, The Corner CafĂ©. Her free ezine, Doing It Write, now in its thirteenth year of publication, goes out to subscribers around the globe. You can follow Helen on her blog, Straight From Hel, on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. She is also Co-Partner and Webmistress for Legends In Our Own Minds® and the Coordinator of Story Circle Network’s Editorial Services.
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8 comments :

  1. Nice post and so true. I feel a book is not a product of one writer, but a family of writers!

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  2. Helen, I've got the fearless part down ... now, if I could just find the energy to utilize it!

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  3. Acknowledge the fear and do it anyway!

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  4. So true, Helen. We writers sure are an insecure lot, aren't we. Not a question, a statement. (smile)

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  5. I like how you present this—almost as if when understandable human fears present themselves, we can call upon the writer within to steamroll them. The writer as superhero!

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  6. Absolutely! As writers, we need to face our fears and stare them down. The definition of courage is to do the thing that scares us the most!

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  7. In his first inaugural address, Franklin Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." I'm taking it out of context and applying it to Helen's post. Cure for fear: stare it down and march over the top of it. Easier said than done, yes, but Helen's definition of fearless urges us valiantly on into that unknown territory toward creating a great book.

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  8. I agree Maryann, writers, myself included, are insecure - or most of us tend to be. But if we don't conquer our fears and insecurities, we won't get anywhere. It's not always easy, though.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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