If I fail, it will not have been without trying.

I’ve been somewhat reluctant this week to take time out to write a blog.  At this point I’d rather be writing fiction, especially since I’m so close to finally actually finishing something.  For once.  But this very situation has given me plenty to talk about, so that’s good.

My current WIP is an urban fantasy about a demon hunter.  The basic premise is, I know, well-used and possibly even, at this point, cliché.  But have hopes that my specific take and characterization will make it worth reading.  I hope…  Now, most of my WIPs (and I have several, okay, quite a bit more than several) are high/epic fantasy, so, even though I read urban fantasy, writing in this subgenre is new for me.  But when I decided to try NaNoWriMo for the first time this past November I wanted to a) try something new, and b) do something that wouldn’t require quite as much insanely in-depth world building as I normally inflict upon myself (the planning of which usually takes up weeks before I get around to actually writing the story).  So, trying my hand at urban fantasy, which I love to read anyway, seemed like a good idea.

And apparently it was, because this is the first WIP I have ever come close to finishing.  I have a very bad habit of starting something, getting stuck, starting something new, getting stuck, starting something new, getting stuck, starting… ad infinitum.

On Sunday and Monday, I took some time out of actually writing, to do some detailed plotting, and I realized that if things go according to plan, I could finish this novel in about 7 chapters.  That is a BIG DEAL for me.  Then, on Monday, having plotted out the specifics for these last 7 chapters, I immediately lost all pretense of concentration and got stuck again.  And Tuesday continued on no better.  Write a few sentences, then play around online.  Write a few more sentences, then stare into space.  Write a couple more sentences, then go get something to eat.  Bang my head on my keyboard.  All day.  Yeah…

I kept trying to think ahead to the end, and couldn’t concentrate on the scene I was currently trying to write.  And then, I simply couldn’t write anything at all.  On Twitter, someone suggested a ‘fear of success.’  It’s certainly a possibility.  But I think two things are getting in my way.  First, a general excitement at the prospect of ACTUALLY FINISHING SOMETHING! – thus, my brain keeps jumping ahead the end.  And second, and more importantly, I think rather than a fear of success, I am experiencing a continual lingering fear of failure.  As long as I haven’t actually finished something, I can hardly complain about not finding an agent, or a publisher, or readers, or whatever, right?  As long as I haven’t actually finished something, I can whine about lack of time or concentration for awhile, do my best determined-author “I will do it!” speech, and continue on as I always have.  But the minute I finish something, I have to accept the possibility that no one will actually read it or like it.  And THAT is TERRIFYING, especially after giving myself that determined-author “I will do it!” speech for so damn long.

But I am sick and tired of calling myself a writer, and having only a dozen or so unfinished novels and a handful of unpublished short stories to back it up.  I realize that even if I finish this draft, I will still have months and months of revising and editing ahead of me, but even one single finished draft will put me a whole helluva lot farther ahead than I am currently.  So I’m putting everyone on notice.  I AM going to FINISH this.  I have approximately 7 chapters left (if all goes according to plan).  I’m giving myself two weeks, maybe three.  And everyone is free (and encouraged) to poke and prod and pester me about it to your heart’s content.  Because this is it, people.  I’m calling myself out now.  And if I ultimately fail, it will not have been without trying.

So, what do you do when nothing seems to put your concentration back on track?  And how do you deal with a fear of success, or a fear of failure?  Any suggestions?

Here’s one option:


9 thoughts on “If I fail, it will not have been without trying.

  1. Sometimes all I need is a cup of tea.

    Sometimes I think a cup of tea laced with cyanide would be better, and that is when I get up and head for the Wii to play Rock Band or one of my pc games where I can kill things. Digital murder can be very cathartic.

    • LOL! Yes, the cyanide sometimes seems like a good idea. I’ve never been much of a gamer, I don’t really have the patience for it, but I do sometimes “borrow” my brother’s Wii and play Smash Bros. Brawl. That’s a good one for getting some aggression out too.

      I used to play DDR a lot too – great cardio work-out and flat-out fun, but my dance pads broke. Maybe I should buy new ones…

  2. When all else fails I usually play poker on my xbox or Call of Duty Black ops. Movies help too. I try to watch movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Jacket, Fightclub and Ninth Gate for stimulation, or The Hangover if I need some funny and wind down.

    • I love Fight Club. Man, what a great movie. But mainly what I watch late at night when I need to wind down is Disney movies and Miyazaki movies. What can I say? I’m a girl… ^_^

  3. All I can tell you is you are not alone. My week has felt the same. Even when I carve out time to write/blog, I’m stuck on my WIP and thinking about work, laundry, eating or making ice tea. I’m reminding you what I just had to remind myself. You may not have it all figured out, but you don’t have to. Not yet, and that’s ok because you’re taking all the right steps to get there and you’re extremely self aware of what you need to work on. The change and the success and the final project may not come as quickly as we want it, but it’s on its way. Slow and steady, Amanda, you will do this!

    • Yes! My brain keeps skipping around to other things. I’ll tell you what, I think I might really need to turn my wifi off for a day or two. I bet that would help. I’m such an internet addict… *sigh*

      Thanks as always for your encouragement and support. It really means a lot. We just have to keep telling ourselves: We can do it! *crosses fingers*

  4. You got this! Be sure to reward yourself and focus on the accomplishment. Throw a party when you jot down THE END even if you’re the only one there. Don’t worry about whether or not the thing will get published someday. Grant yourself the joy of accomplishing what so many people never do.

    • A party! Great idea! Of course, I pretty much WILL be the only one there… unless I throw it online. All my friends are on my computer…

      Thanks so much for the advice!

  5. I find that any time I get hyped about the prospect of making progress, I tend to fail abysmally at actually doing so. Any time I get that creative hype or once I have everything organized, or once I make certain to carve out that entire half a day of time to write and convince myself that “I’ll get an entire chapter done tonight”…that I’m really usually lucky to get an entire paragraph out of the whole thing.

    And I do think there is something intimidating about finishing a work that extensive. I have enough trouble forcing myself through to the end of my short stories. Finishing an entire novel is way beyond that (and also something that I myself haven’t done since high school).

    But I know something else. I know that you’re one of the hardest and most persistent workers I’ve ever met. I know that you take your writing seriously. And I know that you’re fully, totally, and completely capable of this, even if it’s harder to see from your perspective. I’m proud of you for getting to this point, and I’ll go on being totally proud of everything that you accomplish.

    Oh, and I would love to have a virtual party with you any day, any time (except for 8-5 PST M-F), WHEN, and not if you finish. ^^

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