Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.
Today: Christian confronts the F-word:
FEAR. Fear is one of the top 6 motivators governing human decision making since the existence of hungry sabertooth tigers trying to eat said humans. It’s an “eat or be eaten” world. Fear is the underlying theme for the first week of prep – The Protagonist Character Treatment.
As discussed in other dispatches, I have used the last 8 weeks of Core as an opportunity to experiment with my story and writing style. I’ve written test scenes switch protagonist and nemesis, changing genders and ethnicity, playing around with backstories and motivations. This week was time to commit, time to make some decisions, time to “poop or get off the pot”. So what do I do in this situation, with the hopes of having some divine intervention providing answers, maybe a small brush fire with a character name or something, I waited until the last possible minute to decide on my protagonist.
What was really holding me back was the fear of commitment. Developing your protagonist is kind of like getting married. Up until now, I’ve played the field, exploring lots possibilities for my story’s hero, but it’s time. Daddy-Scott’s got his shotgun, and this shit is going to happen whether I’m ready or not. So literally in the eleventh hour (1 hour before our assignment was due), the magic happened. My hero raised her/his hand and said, “Here I am. I’ve been here all along waiting for you to see me.”
With that mega commitment out of the way, why do I feel even more anxious this morning? Hopefully, this anxiety is more of an excitement to get this mighty writing ship out to the sea of story and experience more magical moments on the Quest ahead. Bon Voyage!
If you Google “writers fear,” a quite impressive list of sites appear… which suggests that anxiety about writing is a pretty universal thing. Take this site for example which lists “The 7 Deadly Fears of Writing”:
* Fear of Rejection
* Fear of Inadequacy
* Fear of Success
* Fear of Revealing Too Much
* Fear of Having Only One Book in You
* Fear You’re Too Old
* Fear of Too Much Research
I could add a few like Fear You’re Too Young, Fear Your Stories Aren’t Commercial, Fear Someone Is Going To Beat You To The Punch With This Current Story You’re Writing And Wouldn’t That Suck Big Time.
How about you? Are there any writing fears you would add to the list.
The thing is, if we can learn to flip our perspective, anxiety or even fear can be motivating. Like what Christian did: As soon as he stepped out of the fear and into the real world, where he realized, “Hey, the due date is going to hit no matter what, so I’d better get off the pot here,” he pounded out a treatment.
Here is one of the best anecdotes I’ve ever heard about how fear can serve as motivation. I recall reading it in a book by screenwriter William Goldman. It seems Goldman knew this professional basketball player, a guy who was a member of the New York Knicks. The dude was known for his work ethic, showing up well before practice, staying well after, practicing his shooting for hours on end.
Goldman asked, “You’ve already made the NBA. Why do you continue to work so hard?”
The guy turned to Goldman and said, “Because I know if I’m not practicing… someone else is.”
Acknowledge the fear. Make fun of the fear. Embrace the fear. Use the fear. Whatever works. Whatever gets our ass on chair and writing.
Because when we’re not writing… someone else is.
Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.
About Christian: From Louisiana, now in Seattle. Turns off street lights with his mind. Regrets not learning the tuba – TUBAS ROCK! Storyteller. @cmfontenot.