There is a story you’ve been holding onto. One you want to share. But for some reason, whenever you sit down to get the ideas out, you hit a block. Perhaps you feel unsure about how to start. Maybe you’ve started but you aren’t confident about where to take it. Or are you someone who keeps rewriting the same section until it’s just right but never getting anywhere?
A lot of these thoughts are based on fear. You don’t start because you are afraid you aren’t good enough or that you can’t do justice to the story you want to tell. You get stuck somewhere in the middle because you worry about giving the reader what they want without giving them what’s expected. And you rewrite because you are scared that a reader will judge you.
All of these thoughts have something in common: they shift the focus of why you aren’t writing off of you and onto someone else. These fears are based on outside forces and perceptions. And while worrying about the reader and ensuring they are happy is a great thing for a finished novel, it does not help you finish the novel.
Write for yourself.
Stop stressing about genre conventions and word count. Stop thinking about how the reader would perceive a character’s actions. Stop worrying about agents and publishers.
Start thinking about the excitement you have when your idea takes shape. Start focusing on the feelings of fulfillment when you have a good writing day. Start enjoying the process of writing just to write.
Don’t think about others and whether or not the story is “publishable.” Genre conventions, grammar, reader expectations, agents, plot holes, pacing, character appeal . . . these are things to resolve in later stages. First, you have to get the story down. And that first draft should be for you and you alone.
So release that tension. Let go of the pressure. Delight in the storytelling. And write like no one is watching (because they aren’t yet).