When in Doubt, Keep Leaping

About this time last year I ordered a very funny calendar from the 101 Reasons to Stop Writing folks. (Visit their site to read their latest lighthearted NaNoWriMo coverage. Think of them as the witty atheists in the bar at a Sunday School teacher convention.) I also got a pack of their “HORROR: The escalating sense of fear that Stephen King has already thought of your story” postcards. I’m sad to report that their Cafe Press store seems to be missing. It’s a shame because the quips are always on target–and occasionally chastening. They’re big into tongue-in-cheek demotivation.

With all the excitement of the new site and preparing blogs and interviews and making travel plans for next month, I’ve been feeling a little demotivated myself. Some afternoons I feel like I not only have to make things up out of whole cloth, but also grow the cotton, pick the cotton, dye the cotton and weave the stuff. (Okay–enough with the cotton metaphor, but you get the idea.) With all the additional noise in my head, my internal editor is screaming louder than ever that she’s read what I’m writing before. “Stephen King did this better,” she says. “Hey, what are we doing setting a story in Appalachia? Your husband does that and he does it a hell of a lot better!” I tend to think this is why my daily word counts have been only half of where they should be.

Doubt can be a useful thing, keeping us out of places we shouldn’t go, and out of potentially harmful situations and relationships. But when it gets carried too far and becomes irrational fear, that’s a whole other problem.

Fiction writers must be able to artificially suspend their readers’ disbelief, and create worlds that are real–even when their characters are busy defying the laws of nature. And they similarly must be able to overcome the disbelief in themselves. Writing is truly an act of faith and must be approached with utter and complete self-abandon if the work is to be any good at all.

So, here’s to self-abandon.

Is there something you want to accomplish in your life that requires self-abandon? Have you been able to do it?


THANK YOU to everyone who visited my new website and made Monday and Tuesday two of the most enjoyable days in my career. I treasure each and every one of your comments and cheers–and also am grateful for the quiet support of everyone who chose just to peek in, appearing as only a single digit on the secret visitor counter. You are all wonderful!

TOMORROW: Winners announced!

3 thoughts on “When in Doubt, Keep Leaping”

  1. AnswerGirl says:

    Every year I try to do one thing that is completely new to me, one thing that forces me to stop and admit, “I do not know how to do this.” It often involves taking a class; my laughable Spanish, clumsy ice skating and minimal piano skills all come from these attempts.

    Writing is like any of those things. Nobody knows how. Everybody’s still learning. You’re allowed to say you don’t know how to do it, but then you’re required to try anyway — because you are not a wimp.

  2. I do believe that spending four years walking through North America in the mid-seventies required pin point awareness under the abandoned self.

    City kid, non hunter, gone to the land of the great outdoors. I found that one has to abandon self in order to find it.

  3. Wow–you’re two very brave non-wimps. Bravo to you both!

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