#3 - Fear of Writing

I haven't written a single word toward finishing my novel since the 13th of June.

I don't think that confession adequately paints the picture, though, because I only wrote 26 words that day. In addition to that, there are 18 days so far this month that I had planned to write and ended up having to record 0 words for the day in my spreadsheet. Even that sounds too generous because for the past week and a half, I haven't even opened and updated the spreadsheet at all. I just barely added the last week and put 0 in all the days.

To tell you the truth, it's not because I don't know what to write about or because I don't have time to write. After all, I've found time to journal every single day for the past month, I've found time to start this blog, and I find time several times a day to check my email and post to discussion boards on various topics.

The reason I haven't been working on my novel lies not in the field of Time Management, but in the field of Psychology. Something is holding me back. The closer I come to finishing the book, the worse my anxiety and fears loom. What if it isn't good enough? What if I'm revealing too much of myself? What if it gets published and then flops in the marketplace, or the readers hate it? What if I realize when I've finished that I went in the wrong direction on page 3 and I have to re-write the whole rest of the book? These are the fears that make my heart pound and my palms turn sweaty as I stare at the blank page.

Now, I have to consider what to do about it. The option to give up on finishing the book is not even an option, so we'll move on to a discussion of how to finish the book.

In other areas of my life, I've found it helpful to write out clear goals and positive affirmations, review them daily, keep track of my progress, and hold myself accountable.

Word Goal:
In the past, I had a goal to write 1000 words a day, and then I changed it to 1500 words and for a while, that was working for me, but when I started to slip, I think I just threw my hands in the air because I knew I couldn't reach my goal. I think this time, I'm going to start off with a goal to write just 250 words a day. If I get on a roll and keep going, fine, but no less than 250, 5 days a week. After all, that will still get me 1250 words closer to finishing my novel each week.

Overall Goals:
To finish writing this book, revise and rewrite and polish it for as long as it takes, and send it out to publishers in the hopes of getting it published.

Positive Affirmations:
I will finish writing this book.
I will be a successful, published author.
I can do it.
I'm worth it.
Now, I feel like saying Rah, Rah, Rah!

Okay, so it's a little cheesy, but if it works, I can live with that.

I plan to review these goals and affirmations at least once a week, and as far as accountability, I'm sure all of my faithful blog readers will hold my feet to the fire if I don't get it done.

Now that I have a plan in place, I hope to never again look myself in the mirror and wonder why I haven't worked on my novel for the 10th day in a row.

#2 - What is My Occupation?

I don't know what to say when I'm asked, either in person or on a form, what my occupation is.

I'm still trying to get ahold of that elusive Bachelor's Degree by taking online courses, so I could qualify to check the "student" box. On the other hand, I am a full-time stay-at-home mother to four children. Should I check "homemaker", or better yet, fill in "Domestic Engineer" in the "other" column?

I have been telling people that I am a writer, but then they want to know what books I've written. When I confess I haven't been published yet, they look at me a little funny. I know what they're thinking - that I'm not really a writer if I haven't published a book.

It's funny, too, that when I'm in the company of other writers, either aspiring authors or published ones, I will readily say I'm a writer. Among other groups of people, I'm more likely to claim "homemaker" as my occupation.

Out of curiosity, I used an online dictionary - thefreedictionary.com - and it defines "author" as someone who takes responsibility for a published work or something to that effect. On the other hand, it defines "writer" as someone who is capable of writing and has actually done so. Those definitions still leave me in the never-never-land of occupations.

I guess the only thing to be done is to get my work published. Then I can rightly assume the title Author and all of this annoying confusion will be gone.

#1 - I'm a Bookworm

I used to sit at my desk in the back row of Chemistry, Junior year, and read a book or do English homework instead of listening to the lecture.

Now, when you know that I got straight "A"s in Chemistry, that might not seem so bad. On the other hand, I might still be able to remember something I learned that year if I had paid just a little bit more attention.

The truth is, I've always had my nose stuck in a book, whether it be reading or writing, practically from the time I started kindergarten. I love being transported to another world, becoming another person, seeing life and love through their eyes.

When asked what my favorite book is, my answer is usually, "The one I'm reading right now." I know people who are critical as they read books, picking up the mistakes, getting "thrown" out of the story by tense changes or unwieldy Point of View shifts. I, on the other hand, am always so immersed in the tale, I rarely notice any of those things.

9 times out of 10, when I put a book down after reading the last page, it is with disappointment that the story is over.

When all is said and done, it probably won't matter if I remember the molecular composition of chemical compounds or the elements on the periodic table, but I would deeply regret if I lived out my days without ever meeting and getting to know Jean Val Jean.