Tag Archives: Fear

When Words Won’t Come

We’ve all shared tips on how to write every day and how to fight that devil, procrastination. Or in other words, how to nip our laziness in the bud. Laziness is indeed a real thing, but often when we think that that’s exactly what our problem is, it isn’t. It’s overwhelm. Beating ourselves up with a whole lot of self-recrimination doesn’t help either. Feeling bad about yourself in general isn’t going to give you a fabulous boost of creativity or spur you to action. More than likely you’ll just spend the whole day playing Candy Crush and then top off your day eating piles of pizza while pondering your uselessness as a writer and in general. The secret to avoiding this is to know your real enemy.

We’re all very similar. All day long most of us are inundated with reasons to fail at whatever it is that we’re doing. We have lots to do as well as our writing. Family responsibilities, marketing, day jobs, and the list goes on. Then when we do sit down to write we freeze right up and not a single word comes out. A few angsty minutes staring at the blank screen, and then hello pizza, TV, and self-recrimination.

Next time this happens to you, before setting in motion the usual procrastination-busting sequences like clearing up your work space and forcing yourself to just dive in to any first sentence, take a deep breath and have a look at whether or not you have reason to feel overwhelmed. Then be kind to yourself. Break things down. Go slow. One sentence at a time is fine. One word at a time. It’s a common human behavior when faced with something that doesn’t seem doable to freeze and do nothing at all. You have your fight or flight instincts which are quite common and discussed often, and your freeze instinct fits in with them. These days in the modern world where we don’t often have to physically defend ourselves or run for the hills, many of us find those instincts coming into play on an emotional level and often wreaking havoc with the way we live our lives. The freeze instinct can be just as damaging as the punch or run. Often when what faces us seems frighteningly undoable by us, instinct tries to save us with the old immobilize and ignore. No matter how much we want to write, we just can’t seem to start.

A good exercise here is to realise that it’s a feeling generated by inappropriate fear blown out of all proportion. Be kind to yourself and accept that the fear is reasonable to you though, and then stay right where you are and let it come. Don’t head for the pizza until the anxiety goes away. Consider that even though you might write something not particularly fabulous it won’t be the end of the world. Writing nothing will never expose you to be a rotten scribbler, but ask yourself if the stress levels of staring at the blank screen and the extra poundage from avoiding it are worth it.

Accepting that you feel overwhelmed either by the thought of writing, or the enormity of writing a whole book in the little time that you have available, and giving yourself a little imaginary hug is a great step to getting words on paper again. If you can only write two words an hour, give yourself kudos for trying rather than self abuse for the teeny wordcount. Often tough love is not what’s needed when the story won’t come out. Try a little bit a self sympathy instead, and just do the best that you can. Recognise that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed. You’re human. That’s a lot more conducive to being able to write than calling yourself lazy.

Writer

Fear of Dying by Erica Jong #bookreview by @FTThum

Fear of Dying

Title:                    Fear of Dying
Author:                Erica Jong
Publishers:        Canongate (29 October 2015)
Format:                Paperback
ISBN-10:             178211744X
ISBN-13:             978-1782117445
Website:             http://www.ericajong.com/fear-of-dying.htm
Pages:                   288
Genre:                 Adult Fiction; Women’s Fiction
 

What’s it about?

This book is further evidence of Erica Jong’s courage in tackling personal politics through fiction.  This poet and author of ‘Fear of Flying’ to ‘Fear of Fifty’ now tackles the issue of ageing and death and our very human reaction to fear of dying through the pursuit of sex.

Fear of Dying opens with an advertisement on Zipless.com – an internet sex site, by the protagonist, Vanessa Wonderman, which read in part,

“Happily married woman with extra erotic energy seeks happily married man to share same.”

Vanessa is a 60 year old woman exposed to deaths around her from the loss of her beloved father, to the process of losing her mother whom she admired and loved, to the shock of almost losing her husband. And her psychological response? To cling to life, to the symbol of life and vitality that is, sex – the “life force, the fire that goes from loins to navel, navel to heart, heart to brain”.

Vanessa is married to a man two decades older and impotent whom she loved yet found wanting, he met her needs yet she is unable to appreciate some of his ways, particularly the interference of his work.

Vanessa have always had the adoration of men, whom she in turn adored and flirted with and more. Ageing threatens her, as the first line in the book states, “I used to love the power I had over men” and later, “I hate, hate, hate getting older”.

Written in the first person, I encounter Vanessa’s mind in Fear of Dying as she experiences conflicted emotions and confusion. Vanessa does not profess to be the ‘good daughter’ or the ‘good mother’ or the ‘good wife’…quite the contrary. And it is the flawed aspects of Vanessa that makes this book entertaining and humorous. Her honesty is refreshing. It kept me turning the pages.

How does it end for Vanessa, the cynical somewhat jaded actor? You must discover this for yourself.

And if Fear of Dying is semiautobiographical then it is a testament that 60 year olds are still sexually passionate and not just in their minds.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, an intelligent and entertaining book that kept me wanting to know how it ends for Vanessa.

Ratings:

Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think:               3.5/5
Overall enjoyment:           4/5
Readability:                       3.5/5
Recommended:                 3.5/5
Overall Rating:                   3.5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD $4.44
  Paperback USD $15.99
Booktopia Paperback AUD $17.95
Bookdepository Paperback £12.23

– FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

florence-2

© 2016 LitWorldInterviews

 

Dodge Around the Blocks

When you absolutely can’t think of another single word, and the very thought of sitting down at your keyboard to carry on, or start, writing your book makes you almost come out in hives, that’s the very time to do just that. Force yourself, no matter how blank your mind seems to be. If you give in to the “I’ll do it later when I’m feeling more inspired” thought, there’s a very distinct probability that you’ll give in to that very same thought again, and then again. Habits form amazingly quickly, and bad habits even quicker than good ones, so it’s best to try not to give them any room for takeover. One unproductive hour becomes two – one day becomes two.

The path of least resistance is generally the wrong path to take in writing – in life too, but most definitely in writing. If writing a single book, let alone multiple books, was easy, then everyone would be doing it. The fact that it’s actually really hard, and that you’re doing it anyway makes you a legend. Not everyone has the ability to translate a story in their head to words on pages that people will enjoy reading. Just like art, you can see amazing things in your mind, but if you don’t have that mystical innate artistic talent that some are born with you’re not likely to transfer it exactly as you see it to canvas.

When the going gets hard, make yourself work harder. When the words on your screen look stupid, and you’re sure that your book is going to be laughed under tables, and physically thrown at walls because of the very rottenness of it, just add more words to those words. They’re very probably the opposite of rotten words. When doubt creeps in to try and steal your words, write those words down anyway. They’re there inside waiting for you to move around the fear.

When you get stuck, and we all get stuck at some point in writing our books, it’s time to firmly employ the dodge and scribble on anyway maneuver. At the end of that sentence that seems to be the last one you’ll ever be able to write, and you’re quivering in terror knowing full well that you’re an absolute fake. You’re not a writer, and never will be. Just hit the page break button and start typing something else. If you’ve hit a wall as far as what must happen next, forget about it and move on to the next chapter. You have a general idea of what will happen later in your story. Move on and write some of that. Never stop and allow the blank page to stay where it is while your doubt induced terror freezes you up even further. Move on. Write something else. Anything else. But write on.

Generally people don’t get impossible to ignore urges to do something unless it’s something that they should be doing. Doing anything worthwhile is seldom a doddle. If you have been called to write, then that’s what you should be doing. It’s not going to be easy, but it won’t always be hard either. So, never give up. Always dodge around the blocks and scribble on anyway.

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