#NaNoWriMo2015-Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #22)

If you started writing your novel on November 1st, you are fast approaching your final week!  Kudos for those of you who pushed the edge of the envelope (and filled the pages) this month.

If fear kept you from beginning, continuing, completing your first draft, acknowledge your fear and sit with the feelings.

Take a few minutes to free write to see if you can focus in on the nature of your fears: Are you afraid of failure? Afraid of writing total crap? Afraid of actually finishing? Afraid of success? Afraid of attention? Afraid of being seen? Afraid of not using your voice?  Afraid of envy? Afraid of having to commit to revision?  Afraid of dying if you finish your draft? Afraid of others around you dying if you finish your draft? Afraid of going crazy? Afraid of inviting darkness? Afraid of not living up to the “hype”? Afraid of those around you who are envious and toxic? Afraid of ridicule?

Afraid that if you finish your book in the forest, and scribble ‘the end of draft one’ no one will hear your pencil drop?

But don’t stop there, sense what else is going on inside you? Is there shame mixed with fear? Is there rage? Is there overwhelm? Desperation? Anxiety? Obsession? Depression? Dread. Anticipation of any and all of these?

Welcome to the club. These are common fears (emotions) for writers. Please feel free to add your special fears to the list.

If we didn’t feel these fears, these emotions, we would be in trouble. We write to figure out the answers to our questions. We write to try to work our way through our human dilemmas. We write to come out the other side with new vision, new insight.

These fears/emotions also connect us to our characters–whether we are writing fiction or memoir. So don’t try to quash your fears–that never works. Stay curious and stay with the emotional experience and see how the deepest nature of each emotion lives inside your characters.

Your hero may not be writing a book, but he may well be training for Iron Man, or she may be auditioning for The Lion King, or going into combat for the first time, or working three jobs and attending night school and raising her child as a single mom. She wants desperately to succeed, to prove herself, to give her children more than she was given, to dig deep for courage, to make her life matter. He wants to prove he’s not too old to make it to the top of the mountain one more time, he wants to lead bravely under fire and keep the men and women in his unit safe.

We writers (actors, dancers, painters, singers, sculptors) work with our emotions, and we must have compassion and courage to stay with our stories, whatever form they take. We can’t afford to bury the complexity of our human spirits, our humanity, beneath thick skins or armor–the aching desire to understand what makes us human, our hearts, our emotions, our brains, our cognitions, our resiliency and our vulnerability, our darkness and our light, our capacity for incredible kindness, humor, and generosity and our capacity for terrible cruelty…we need to be strong to tell the stories of our world.

PS If you didn’t reach your goal this month, never fear, you can begin now, tomorrow, next month, just don’t wait too long.

In creative solidarity~Sarah

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