Today, I have the unique pleasure of having a guest post by the awesome Ella Martin. Her novel, WILL THE REAL PRINCE CHARMING PLEASE STAND UP is due to release July 2014. She can be found on here and here.
ON FEAR AND WRITING
by Ella Martin
I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all. – E.B. White
Writing is a scary business.
I’m not talking about the fear that no one will ever buy your book, or the fear that editors won’t buy it, or even the fear that agents won’t love it enough to offer to represent you.
Those are all scary things related to writing, but those are all after the fact because writing—the actual act of sitting down and getting words onto the page (or screen, as the case more often is these days)—can be pretty freakin’ terrifying.
It wasn’t always like this for me. And in all actuality, I love to write. It’s my emotional outlet. My fifth-grade teacher handed me a blank notebook one day and told me to fill it up with all my thoughts and ideas and stories, and I was hooked. In those days, writing wasn’t so scary. Writing was just something I did.
When I sat down to write my novel WILL THE REAL PRINCE CHARMING PLEASE STAND UP?, it wasn’t scary. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo 2012, and I signed up for that on a whim. I’d had the general idea for the story for month, but I finally put the words onto the screen that November. I was excited and eager to be writing the first draft, and I didn’t have a chance to be scared.
But writing the second book? I didn’t have the one-month self-imposed deadline. I wouldn’t “earn” a shirt proclaiming me a winner once I’d finished it. I didn’t have a site that would hold me accountable before all my peers. Worse, I had time to think, to second-guess myself, to wonder if I was telling the right story for my character. In that way, time can be a dangerous thing because if allowed, time can feed fear and allow it to fester.
Why, then, is writing so scary? I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, committing words to the page, knowing that people may—no, will—read them, is intimidating. My work in progress, a companion novel to WILL THE REAL PRINCE CHARMING PLEASE STAND UP?, has started and stalled more times than a lemon coming off a used car lot. In my head, I have the story perfectly mapped out, and the words are beautifully written. It’s flawless.
To actually write out the story, though, means it will lose that perfection. It subjects it to the possibility (and likelihood) of being questioned, torn apart, and rejected. And as much as I claim to welcome feedback and embrace rejection, it’s still scary.
I once read somewhere that fear and excitement, from a purely physiological perspective, are the same emotion. The body responds the same way to both. Pupils dilate, adrenaline courses, heartbeats race, breathing quickens to accommodate the increased blood flow, and the brain is on alert. How we use that energy is what determines if it’s fear or excitement.
So embrace the fear and channel that energy into your words. Know that it’s okay to be scared—but it’s not okay to give into that fear. Repurpose the fear as excitement, and write like no one but you will ever read it. There will be ups and downs. There will be passages you can’t wait to write and parts you force yourself to slog through. But when you’ve met your word count for the day or feel the euphoria that comes after finishing a chapter, you can think of the roller coaster you’ve just been on, look back on it, and say, “I wanna do that again!”
Ella Martin is a YA author represented by Julia A. Weber of J.A.W. Literaturagentur. Her debut novel WILL THE REAL PRINCE CHARMING PLEASE STAND UP? is a contemporary continuation of Snow White in which a 15-year-old girl discovers “happily ever after” only happens with the right guy. It will be available July 2014 from Astraea Press.