Getting past the fear

NOTE: This is a chapter I added after I sent out Advance Review Copies for Rapid Novel, which is coming soon!

When I first immigrated to America from the Philippines some thirty years ago, one of the most interesting experiences for me was going to a water park in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I went on a water slide that seemed pretty high up. I figured it must be fun; the lines were long. My boyfriend-then-husband-now went ahead of me. I sat down on the slide, covered with flowing water. I chuckled because I had to scoot on my swimsuit bottom to get to the edge.

And then boom! One moment I was on the slide, and the next, I was plunging straight down. The slide was so steep and so tall, I still get clammy hands remembering how I was so shocked I couldn’t even scream. I descended for probably what was just seconds but felt like an eternity.

Had I known about the slide’s steepness, or seen videos of people going down it, I probably wouldn’t have done it. And yet, I was able to do it and survive.

The same goes for writing. Sometimes, we are better off not focusing on what is beyond that blank page, and just plunge right in. It will be the hardest thing, terror will nearly paralyze you, but you will survive. And when you are looking at the 50K word counter on your document, thinking, I did that faster than I ever have, you will feel the greatest rush. Believe you can do it, and you will.

Writing a novel doesn’t even involve death-defying water slides, even if it feels like it. (For the record, I probably would never go down a slide like that again, knowing what I know now.)

Before self-publishing my first novel, I felt sick to my stomach for weeks. It’s gotten easier since with each book, but I still stare at a blank page with nausea.

When you’ve been going along with good daily word counts and then aim higher— 5K , 10K, 17K—fear and doubt will grab you by the throat and scare you back into a corner, thinking, who am I to try that?

Ask any writer who produces words at a high daily rate, and they’ll say they’re no one special. They still procrastinate cleaning the bathroom like everyone else, and their husbands have to tell them to be ready ten minutes earlier than actual departure time because they’re always tardy.

But one thing they’re real good at is overcoming the fear when it threatens to swallow them, with each goal set higher, and higher, and higher.

Your story won’t be perfect? Write anyway.

You might get bad reviews? Write anyway.

You don’t have a detailed plan for this novel? Write anyway.

You want this story out fast, don’t you? Let that desire and determination carry you through all the negative emotions you might associate with drafting novels. What was past was past. Look to the future.