Monday, January 23, 2012

Face Your Writing Fears - Guest Author Brooke Anderson

Today Naughty Ink welcomes aspiring author Brooke Anderson. Brooke is finding her way into the writing world, ready to take it by storm. She shares with us some sage advice authors of any level can take to heart. Welcome Brooke Anderson!

This has been a rough week for my writing. I have two short stories I’m editing. I haven’t touched them in over a week. Each time I’ve gone near either of them, I cringed and did anything else. Today, I put my foot down and made myself confront my fear. Why was I scared to finish my editing?

Nagging self-doubt... what if?
Basically, both stories are a reader’s nightmare. Awkward sentences, run-ons, unclear descriptions, you name it. This opened the door for nagging self-doubt. I’m not talking about the helpful inner editor that says, “That ‘but’ should be an ‘and.’ That is an awkward sentence.” I’m talking about the mean voice that says, “You’re not a good writer. There is so much rewriting to do, you might as well not have written anything at all.” 

Beyond this negative voice screaming in my head, I think my stories need to be longer. Both stories seem like they are introductions to something more. I’m scared of writing longer. I’m scared of making plot holes and flat characters. I just don’t know how to write longer. In addition, part of my process is to write in twenty minute segments. Thinking about writing 50,000 words in twenty minute segments seems daunting.

Need encouragement? Call a friend
So, what do I do? How do I overcome the nagging self doubt and move forward with my writing and career? First, I must remember good writing is good editing. This is especially true with these manuscripts since they were written as part of National Novel Writing Month. Second, my sex scenes need help because they are coming from my imagination rather than describing what I did yesterday, which is what I’ve done in the past. Third, I’m still developing my skills. They will improve the more I write. You can see this in the works of big name authors, especially if you look back to some of their earlier work. Lastly, I need to remember even Sherrilyn Kenyon has that negative self doubting voice. What does she do? She calls a friend who encourages her. 

I need to take heart and move on. How? Address the problems. For instance, I don’t know how to write a longer book and I’m scared. That is valid, but instead of running away from writing, I need to find a way forward. I could go online to various forums, groups and chat rooms to find a mentor. Someone who has written a longer book and can give advice and help guide me along. I can also look at how to books for advice. My other major fear to confront is the quality of my writing. I need to find a “first reader” or a “beta reader” to help assess my level of work. Someone who will give feedback on what I do well in addition to what I need to work on. Once I have that information, I can focus on improving my weaker areas.

Don’t let negative self doubt scare you away from writing. Look beyond those harsh words and find the real problem. Then take steps to address those fears so you can move forward. I leave you with a quote that was recently sent to me. “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” –Maya Angelou

Contact Brooke at 
Follow her on twitter: @BrookeAn11