1) Breathe! Slowly, deeply, it’s all okay and normal and you will be fine, truly. (And repeat.)
2) Put the story structure info away—in a drawer, in a trash can, in a virtual trash can—and don’t look at it again. When it causes anxiety it is no longer useful. Shred any piece of paper that tells you that there are rules for writing a novel.
3) Know that finishing is difficult for your creative self (and mine and everyone’s!). Resistance can swell a bit when the end of a draft (or even “almost-draft”) nears.
4) Know that you are the perfect person to write your story. It lives in you and it will live through you.
5) Do a 5 minute free write using this prompt: “I am afraid to write this book because…” When you are finished, remind yourself that your fear connects you to your characters. If you write, “I am afraid to fail,” ask yourself, “who in my story is terrified of failing?” Your fear is a doorway into your characters and your story.
6) While you’re writing, write a 5-Minute-Vent using the prompt: “I am allowing my inner gremlins, tricksters, furies and fear-mongers the next five minutes to have their say, here goes…” Now transcribe what comes through until their time limit is up. Then, close the vent respectfully yet firmly. Skim what you’ve read to be sure you hear their message. Let them know you hear them. Remind your inner voices that you will give them another “hearing” tomorrow if they need to speak. Also remind them that you (grown up, integrated, whole you) are writing this book and you are the perfect person to write this book. Remind them that they can relax and take time off because you will be okay and their messages are “early” survival alerts and misguided (not to mention a use of energy that you really want to tap for writing your novel!!!). Let them know that when you are finished with this draft, you will want their PRODUCTIVE energy to serve you during edits (and you will invite them to the page if they remain constructive).
7) Move to a very short writing session for your story–remember Anne Lamott’s “shitty first draft” and I add ”
messy, fast, and hot.”
8) Remain ever-curious about your story and your story world and the characters who inhabit the world.
9) Let me know how this goes.
10) Treat yourself to dark chocolate or your version of dark chocolate. Give yourself a pat–gently–on your heart (I’m serious). Have faith, you are a writer, and you are not alone.
These are just a few of the tips I share in my writer’s workshops. Let me know if they help; I’d love to hear from you!