The fear that poisons the writing soul

With the kids back to school and my schedule finally my own, the sleeping demon of fear has re-entered my school. I had hoped to get at least one writing project completed during the summer, but I ended up putting everything aside and concentrating on my kids and doing things around the house, i.e. do one thing well instead of two things badly.

Now that I have the time again, now that I have no obstacles before me, I find myself once again plagued with fear, doubt, and that sense that I can’t do it. You’d think after nine books (ten if you include Snappy and Dashing) that I’d know better, but there’s something about looking in that twisted mirror that only shows you what you haven’t done.

Sitting around me are several unfinished stories, from Tilruna: Fall of House Andes to Action Guy in Permit Me to Wizard Killer: Season 3, to speak nothing of my non-fiction book about hand selling books. And those are only the stories that are “within striking distance” of being completed. Oh, did I mention the new Yellow Hoods universe pile of stories that are sitting there in various states? Gah…

I’ve fallen into depressions before and have reached the point of wisdom and experience where I know the early warning signs. I noticed I started pulling back from my social circle, I’m jittery/anxious about getting everything out of the way so that I can write (high productivity procrastination), the keyboard and blank screen has become daunting, and my paper notes feel like they become meaningless.

This weekend I did a book signing and I should be over the moon with how it went. The sales were meh for me (it’s all relative) but there were two things that happened that should have me full of excited energy. The fact that I’m not was one of the tip offs that my mental health might not be where I want it.

The first of the two things was someone who was walking by came up, picked up my Man of Cloud 9 science fiction novel, checked it out, got excited about it and then talked with me. Then last night, he messaged me via Facebook to tell me how much he absolutely loved the book and couldn’t put it down. I felt nothing emotionally. Intellectually, I knew this was great. I shared it with my wife and watched her smile.

The other thing? It was someone involved in the production of the hit show Wynona Earp (which is filmed here in Calgary) coming over, buying some of my books, telling me that they were looking for local content to develop, and taking my card to give to the head of their development department. That got a little reaction out of me.

One of the ways I which I start realigning my inner view with the real world when I feel like this, is by voicing it (like this blog post). It tells the demon instead me that I know he’s there, and that I’m going to use all the tools to get him out, but that I’m going to take all of his anchors away from me. I’m going to write the best stories I can, and I’m not going to panic about the deadlines and timelines.

Sorry Demon, you’re times up. Nice to see you, sorry you can’t stay. Actually, not sorry.

By the way, I can feel those twinges of excitement coming back. I better get writing.

6 thoughts on “The fear that poisons the writing soul

  1. Alex McGilvery

    Hi Adam, I’ve had that emotional disconnect, but more in my real life than in my writing life. I write to get away from the rest. Not that it’s healthier. The naming of the demon is essential and it gives us power over it. The fight will be hard, I think of Lancelot’s battle against the forest demon in Guy Gavriel Kay’s “The Darkest Road”, and it is close to how it feels at times.

    You aren’t alone.

    Reply
    1. adamdreece Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Alex. It’s one of those things that I know I have to push aside the ‘soldier through’ and the ‘don’t whine about this’, and recognize that it’s part of defeating it. Isolating myself, trying not to notice it isn’t going to help. That said, I’ve also had to work on not seeing this as a weakness, but as part of my creative self. It’s what allows me to get the depth of story and character that I do.

      Reply
  2. biancarowena

    Are u maybe putting too much pressure on yourself to “catch up” from time off writing this sumner? I’m kind of feeling the same way actually! I haven’t done any writing and my editing is going as slow as one page a day. It’s not enough! I was also recently discouraged by a new project I started for my fan fiction readers which I read at critique group and it got an unfavourable critique. I’ll have to scrap it and start again. Because I know they’re right with their critique. Are u maybe putting too much pressure on yourself to “catch up” from time off writing this sumner? I’m kind of feeling the same way actually! I haven’t done any writing and my editing is going as slow as one page a day. It’s not enough! I was also recently discouraged by a new project I started for my fan fiction readers which I read at critique group and it got an unfavourable critique. I’ll have to scrap it and start again.

    And WOW can u imagine if ur books get made into a film series? That’s the dream of my life! Don’t worry about not feeling the way one would expect to feel by the great news. Sometimes the feelings come later 🙂 I love that u take the time to blog. I wish I did XD

    Reply
    1. adamdreece Post author

      I think I was able to let a lot of the pressure go, by letting those projects I wanted to get done be released of their deadlines. However, now that I need to start writing seriously again, I’m nervous, anxious, scared that I won’t be able to do it. I’ve been here before, many times, but it always surprises me. Also, I always fear that THIS TIME, I will fail.

      Reply
  3. Stephanie Galay

    Good to be able to recognize your low mental health signals and even better to know how to handle them quickly. Hope the upswing continues and by the way… content development interest!!! even if Just a passing thought, I aspire to be there!

    Reply

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