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The second hardest part of revising?
Battling my inner critic, Miranda.
It’s been 10 weeks since I started on this re-vision of my manuscript. Drafting new scenes, reworking old scenes into an alternate POV.
10 weeks of hearing Miranda say I can’t do this. Or it won’t be good enough.
She swore I’d ruin the book.
Every time she said I couldn’t, every time she made me fear I’d never write another decent word, I sat down at my laptop and faced the fear.
Just work on this chapter, this scene, this sentence.
Eventually, I got so immersed in the words, my characters drowned out Miranda.
I forgot to worry about failing. I forgot about finding the right way and let the story guide me. I fell in love with my novel all over again.
And I promised my characters that I would write the absolute best book I could for them.
As I proofread the manuscript for the last time, fear seizes me. What if it’s not good enough? What if it isn’t what the agent envisioned? I swear Miranda is cackling somewhere.
It’s the best thing I’ve written. And that counts. That matters. No matter what Miranda says. No matter what happens next, I’m proud of the book I have in front of me.
Kourtney 1 Miranda 0
Here’s a reblog of something I posted in 2011 about writer fear. Thought it might be useful to hear what happens inside my head in that moment.
Today, I had one of those soul crushing battles with my writing. I’d been editing this book for 5 weeks. When I finished the micro edits done on a chapter by chapter basis, I felt like I had a stronger more cohesive story. I had confidence in myself.
I figured all I needed was a quick macro edit.
Until I moved onto the macro 100 pages at a time edits.
There is so much I found that required further reworking. I’m a week behind schedule because I never anticipated it could be this bad.
I started to question my editing, my intuition, my writing.
I had that moment of do I suck at this and somehow I convinced myself I’m good at it? Like the 500 lb woman who goes out in leggings and thinks they flatter her figure.
OMG, am I in deep denial?!
I stopped and did laundry. Anything to get Ms. Negativity away from my manuscript.
But I don’t have the luxury of a break. I have 130 more pages to edit before my pitch slam in 2 weeks.
And I have to prep for the conference. So I’m going to have to power through this swamp of self doubt.
Maybe they aren’t as bad as I thought. Hopefully they won’t require burning to cleanse the house of their foulness.
Saw the 3-D version of Green Lantern on Saturday. Overall, I enjoyed it. The first 2 minutes were a big backstory dump. I got that the producer’s intent was to weave two stories to their intersection, but it was a bit bumpy at first.
They threw several numbers out within 30 seconds of each other and I started to worry I’d be doing math to watch this film. But a few minutes later, it started to make sense. The world building was pretty cool. Loved the concept of Green Lanterns throughout the universe. But I’m a sucker for comic books. Always have been.
Ryan Reynolds does a great job as the cocky pilot with commitment issues. Makes the character come alive. You find yourself rooting for him almost immediately.
Blake Lively played the love interest and did a nice job. I almost didn’t realize it was the Gossip Girl icon. She becomes so grounded with brown hair.
Wow, was that really Peter Sarsgaard as the villain Hector? He fuglied up like no tomorrow for this role. Clearly, this guy can act because he immersed so well in character that I never realized who the actor was during the movie.
The plot was interesting. I like how they explored the concept of the world being mental and having the power to create what is in your mind. Classic big battle of will vs. fear was well executed.
I like the epic battle good vs. evil movies.
The story moved at a good pace and I didn’t check my watch once.
Loved the Guardians sitting in their granite towers.
The script had several funny moments and poked fun at itself sometimes.
And I am a huge fan of green eyes so I loved how all the Lanterns had them.
The special effects were cool, though I am a sucker for 3-D.
And for another perspective, my 19-year-old male cousin said it was good. Almost as good as Thor but not quite.
It’s not an everyday thing. But some mornings, after I finish my breakfast, FB, emails. It comes.
The Fear. That today I won’t know where to begin my writing. That I’ll sit at the laptop frozen in terror. That my abilities won’t come. That I won’t be enough anymore.
It’s a freaky discombobulating sensation. An anchor dragging me down. While a frenzy of anxiety fireworks shoot off in my mind.
What if today is the day that I can’t do it anymore?
What if I don’t have any more ideas or enhancements to the manuscript?
What if I just can’t do it?
Blind searing panic. Rips open the door on self doubt. The naysayers in my own mind gnaw at me.
And then I force myself to sit down. To start the editing. Sometimes the gears are rusty, but my mind eventually finds the grooves.
And if I can’t edit, I story storm the next book. Type some bullet points for the outline that I haven’t drafted yet.
And if that doesn’t work, I write the blog.
Worst case, I send an oh-my-God-I’ll-never-write-again email to a friend.
Anything to get the writing juices flowing.
It’s been 5 years of writing stories. And this still happens. I think it’s just a part of the writing life.
The fear is always there. The coping mechanisms just get more refined and so what could paralyze you for a week can be condensed down to 15 minutes.
How do you cope with anxiety? The fear of writer’s block/losing your muse?
Did you ever want something and not want it at exactly the same moment? I have. I crave stability and security. I build an entire world and then it starts to suffocate me. And inevitably, I desire change as much as I fear it. Until it reaches the tipping point and finally I smash my world to pieces.
I’ve lived in my apartment 6 years. I’ve made friends in the city. Built a solid life here. But I am tired of seeing grown men peeing in broad daylight on a building. I am sick of the rat race. Something in me wanted out. It was only a matter of time before the economy impacted my day job. My bread and butter. That severely impinged upon my writing time. Double edged sword.
So yesterday, I was laid off. Third time laid off since I started working as a fresh faced college grad. I’ll be okay. I have a good savings. I have a plan. I’ll be able to write more. This will all work out. But it’s tough to say goodbye to everything that was familiar. It’s hard to let go before I wanted to. The sadness and the excitement are so bizarre to have simultaneously. This is an ending and a beginning. There is uncertainty but also possibilities.
Another turn on the wheel of fate. I wonder where I will end up this time.
Did you ever start questioning things in your life? You can’t really figure out what set it off, but suddenly you’re wondering if your making good decisions, if you’re on the right path, and if you are really happy. Yes, it’s self-doubt rearing its ugly head again. She’s the voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough or you’ll never get it right.
I hate that voice. But sometimes I find myself listening to her. Lately, I’ve been wondering what I’m doing with my life. Yeah, I know deep question. I love writing, but it seems to be taking over my life. And not necessarily in a good way. I use it to escape my thoughts. If I am busy enough, I don’t have to think about other things.
But then my neck started acting up and typing became difficult. So writing has been curtailed. My favorite distraction isn’t there anymore. And I start asking those philosophical questions that tie you up in knots but never lead anywhere.
I think it’s normal to doubt yourself and your abilities. Otherwise, you’d have no room to grow. I mean if you decide your aces, what would you have to work on? Nada. So even though I hate having self-doubts, eventually they lead somewhere useful. For now they’re just a yucky thing I have to deal with.
Do you ever have self-doubt? How do you overcome it?