It’s Not Writer’s Block, It’s Fear

Fear is a four-letter word. I like four-letter words.

F*** is a four-letter word.

Writing a sequel is harder than it sounds. Or maybe it sounds as hard as it is. Yes, I know, “Silly newb, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. It was always this hard, you just drank the Kool-Aid too early.” But still. I know where the second book in my series is going. (Well, technically, there have been about three versions of where I thought the second book was going.) I’ve written two books now. The settings are already created. The characters already living entities. The conflicts are present and waiting. This book shouldn’t be this hard. And yet, it is.

Many people don’t believe in writer’s block. They know it for what it is: Fear. Fear of producing a lesser product. Fear of missing the magic of the first piece of work. Fear of going in the exact opposite direction from where everyone else was hoping you’d go. And then, *poof*. Curtain pulled back, magician exposed, the writer is seen for what she is: a one-hit wonder. This isn’t a mythical creation, this is some bimbo fumbling around in the dark trying to put one word after another to form a story that some people somewhere might actually want to read.

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You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

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I didn’t know I didn’t know that much.

One of the most valuable things I learned in school was that I didn’t know shit about anything. While I was an introspective and philosophical adolescent (read: I was convinced I was positively smarter than anyone I knew) who understood humans and the universe they live in, I learned that there was such a vast amount of things in the world I didn’t know were available for a teenager such as myself to know anything about. There was so much I didn’t know I didn’t know, so much I never even considered necessary or interesting or relevant. That’s one of the joys — er, betrayals — of adulthood, learning that there is still so much about life that you I don’t even know exists. Sure, I know I still don’t understand rocket science, or parenthood, or walking a tightrope, and a lot of those things I have little interest in learning. But coming to terms with the vast quantity of things I didn’t even know were possibilities is both a riveting and risky experience. I’d imagine it’s a little like agreeing to be the world’s expert on the next newly discovered animal species . . . you have no idea what you’ll end up with and whether you’ll spend the rest of your career being laughed at by your peers.

As a novelist, the same rules apply while writing. Not before I create a story, not while plotting or even researching, but rather while I’m writing.

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