Sunday, November 10, 2013

Stop being afraid. Just write.

Ever feel like a message is being hammered at you from all directions at once? I have. And this is the message:

Stop being afraid. Just write.

First this message came to me when a friend sent me Neil Gaimen's "Make Good Art" speech:

I had heard this speech before yet it somehow didn't mean as much. Because now is when I needed to hear this message. Why have I never finished a book? I've had plenty of ideas. Dozens of outlines and mounds of research.

I've never completed a book because somewhere in the process I get scared. I become afraid that I will spend months or even years of my life on a book and it will flop. That fear grows and grows until it becomes debilitating and I switch projects. Something smaller and less intimidating. Because if I spend a few days on a short story and it sucks it's just a few days.

I have known this about myself, probably blogged about it in the past. But now it is time to change it.

Today I heard Elizabeth Gilbert read from her new book "Signature of All Things." At one point during the event a question from the audience developed into Gilbert talking about fear. To paraphrase her (because my memory isn't that good) she said that you just have to go for it. When it comes down to it if you write a book or do a painting and it's horrible, what have you really lost? There's no life or death consequence. It's not like failing as a doctor or failing as a lawyer.

There is no good reason NOT to go for your dreams.

"You have to throw that flag really far ahead and just go for it," she said.

She also said that you can't look down or back or below you. She went into a metaphor about Road Runner cartoons which kind of flopped when she realized that she was sentencing us all to falling in a pile of Acme explosives. It was funny, anyway. And the metaphor worked until the explosives...

I can take all the classes and read all the craft books and do all the homework I want. But the only thing that is going to make me a writer is if I write.

"You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be." -Elizabeth Gilbert "Eat, Pray, Love."

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