I think I just figured out why it can be so incredibly hard to start writing in the morning.
See, when I’m on a roll or on a tangible deadline, I can get into a rhythm. Wake up and write. Write whenever I have the chance. Push forward.
But most days I don’t have that. And when I’m starting a new piece, it’s particularly hard. I sit down and stare at the screen, and my mind SCREAMS reasons at me not to start writing.
I’m thirsty. I need to get up and move to stretch my back. I have a stack of mail on my desk that needs to be dealt with. There are dirty dishes upstairs. I have something in my other business that needs immediate attention. The taxes shouldn’t wait. The car needs a carwash. I need to cancel an old subscription before I get billed another $9. It’s been too long since I updated my Facebook page. I should review my advertising dashboard; I could be bleeding money while I sit here.
It is a rapid-fire assault, a fricking machine gun of excuses. The fact that I ever start anything in the face of this onslaught is, frankly, a miracle. And it is happening today. Right this moment, in fact, I am giving in to it by writing this post instead of working on the second chapter of SHAUN (working title). I am justifying it by telling myself I’m trying to address the underlying issue, but I still feel guilty as sin.
Recently I started asking myself, “What are you afraid of?” Because clearly, I am scared witless. I can’t think of any other reason I would enter a state of mental paralysis every time I try to do this. For awhile I decided I was scared of success. I had a plan to start pushing books out a little faster, and I must have been scared of actually succeeding at that. Since that was such a stupid fear to have, I felt good about that answer. It made it theoretically easier to push past it, and maybe it worked for awhile.
That ain’t working this morning. Being scared of failure may be a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason.
“But how can you be scared of failure, Adam? You’ve written six books and a bunch of short stories. You haven’t gotten rich off them or anything, but you’ve made more than most. You’ve done this before and you can do it again.” Even that statement, even me making that statement to MYSELF, sounds like an accusation of failure.
It’s funny. Take anything you’d expect I’d be proud of in my writing career, and I can tell you the reason it doesn’t count. ALEX doesn’t count because I didn’t follow it up fast enough and REBECCA didn’t do as well. Finishing half of a million-word epic fantasy series doesn’t count because I didn’t release them fast enough and as a result they haven’t sold well, and the covers aren’t targeted to market. Getting approached about the film rights for ALEX doesn’t count because it didn’t go anywhere either time. Licensing the audio rights to ALEX doesn’t count because I got ripped off. The glowing reviews on CHILDREN OF A BROKEN SKY don’t count because there aren’t enough of them, and I still have reservations about the quality of the book (and, of course, it’s not selling enough—that particular failing is omnipresent for all the work I’ve done).
Hitting word count today doesn’t count because I didn’t hit it yesterday. Hitting my release date target for this quarter won’t count because I didn’t hit it last quarter.
I sit down and look at that blank page and my mind just SHRIEKS about what a failure I am. Not in so many words, of course; it shrouds everything in that barrage of excuses. But the cacophony is deafening. No effing wonder I have trouble getting started.
Maybe it’ll help to rip the excuses away, like I just did, and expose the quivering terror underneath. Maybe it can move to the back of my brain, instead of the forefront, and sit there gibbering quietly while I get the words down. I really want to put out two novels this year.
I just hope to god someone wants to read them.