If You're Terrified to Death of Starting Your Novel... Do This

. 2 min read

I'm about to start writing my first novel of 2022 next week. (And now I've jinxed it by telling you. Goddammit.) It seems to me that every time I take a little break from writing, it's a little harder to get back to it without some fear.

And this time, the fear is massive. Massive. I'm absolutely convinced that if I start, I can't finish; that it'll be rubbish; that I'll either drive myself into a dead end with the plot or give up mid-story; that the moment I sit down and open the file, I can't do it, the prose isn't there, and whatever words I manage to force out are so bad that I'll quit writing forever because I don't want to risk seeing that I've lost the talent.

If this is you as well, here's what I delicately suggest you do:

  1. Trust that the story knows better than you how it should turn out. Let it unravel the way it wants. Plan all you want, but don't force any particular storyline or twist or ending; the story is the authority here, let it decide.
  2. Trust that even if you think you've reached a dead end with your story, the story will tell you how to fix it.
  3. Whatever sudden ideas you get out of the blue during the planning and writing process, include them; it's the story talking.
  4. Write in the way that comes naturally to you. Don't try to be something you're not; be honest and straightforward.
  5. The fear will subside in time when you learn to trust that you have what it takes and that your muse will show up whenever you show up. Have faith that it'll happen and realize that the fear you feel is just Resistance. (Read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield if you haven't already.)
  6. Even one word a day, regardless of how terrible you think that word is, is enough to keep the momentum going. You owe at least one word to the story every day; honor that debt.
  7. Sitting down and opening the file can be the scariest thing in the world, but it's also usually all it takes for the muse to show up. So bite the bullet and do it.

Yes, it's scary. But you have no choice. The story deserves to be written.

This is bigger than you, bigger than your fear... bigger than Resistance.