Do you get panicked about your writing or your writing career? Do you think you're the only one?
Most of us feel the panic from newbies to old veterans of the publishing business.
The panic particularly hits me and my friends when we're behind deadline, of course. Or at the end of a contract where the books haven't done particularly well and you know that series (or your career with the house) will be dropped.
Or if you're in the self-publishing business, when you lay out a large sum for advertising and wonder if you'll get any kind of return. Or on the release of your first piece of work. Or crafting your next story. Or behind on YOUR deadlines.
And, yeah, this includes me. I'm only slightly behind my schedule for Ghost Maker (due April 30), but I'm nervous. I'm also working on releasing my first self-published novella, and that seems like a climb up Long's Peak, complete with mis-steps, long drops and fatal falls. Recently a situation came up with Berkley that had me so scared and angry that I had disturbing dreams.
Now, I've given workshops on overcoming the panic, and at the Colorado Gold Conference. I HAVE the tools to work through it. Many tools.
But I delay in putting them to use because I'm locked into trying to pretend I can write like normal.
Yesterday, I finally got out of the house and took my travel computer elsewhere to work. And, yes, I got my daily wordcount done, a good amount of research stuck in my head, and a cup of good French onion soup. It helped.
Like I said, I have tools. So here are some of them for you, in no particular order:
If you don't know where the panic is coming from you might want to journal (handwritten!) Or freewrite until it spills out. Freewriting is pencil/pen to the page and write. Don't think, write, no going back, erasing, fixing spelling, nothing. Mind and emotion dump. If you're using standard 8 x 11 paper, a new freewriting person should get to the point about 1.5 pages in.
Or write down all your fears about the current work: the hero is wimpy, the heroine is unsympathetic, the writing is trite and full of cliches. Drain all that negativity out of yourself. Then destroy that paper. Rip it up (do not burn it on your desk full of papers).
Or, while we're on this topic, write out all the things you love about this story. Why you wanted to write it. (And YOU are ALWAYS the only one who can write this particular story). Reaffirm that it's an important-to-you piece of work.
Look at your office, is it too neat (ha, ha) or messy (bingo!). Remedy that.
Take a shower and linger. Or a bath, even, I've had friends say that submerging the whole body (yes, the HEAD that has the BRAIN) under water.
Exercise, get out and get walking and thinking.
Go further, get out of the house to write. Go to a coffee shop or other place where you know others will be working on computers, minimize distractions. Or, if you're writing about a local place (for me, Manitou Springs) and feeling flush, go spend a night there with your computer and write, write, write.
Can't face the blank white screen? Change the color of your document if you can on your PC, or if you use Scrivener, or pull out a piece of paper and start writing by hand.
Subliminals and sound waves. These work for me (or I've convinced myself they work for me). Apps and "music" that come over earphones at a certain frequency to change your brainwaves – some I have are labeled "Morning Espresso," "Concentration," "Creative Thinking," "Lateral Thinking."
Just Write. Put your butt in a chair, set a timer for a certain amount of time (I prefer a half hour) and write. Jot down phrases that come to you about the scene that you can work with, a bit of dialogue.
So those are ten techniques to take you out of your mind/emotion panic and act, but, really, if you know that going and sitting in a salt light cave will help, do that.
We can all do this. And if the panic seems to bad, call a friend, we've pretty much all been there. When I talk to my friends and we expose our panic, we always end the call or the chat session with, "YOU CAN DO IT!"
Yes, you can.
May all your writing dreams come true.