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Creativity in the Face of Fear

October 17, 2012

I haven’t posted for about a week because I spent the time adding twenty-three thousand words to the first installment of my series Race the Night.

A publisher had advertised that it was open to unagented submissions. The minimum number of words accepted in a book was seventy thousand.  I thought that my first forty-seven thousand plus words/twelve chapters were fairly decent, and I worked hard to draft them – for over a month.  Adding twenty-three thousand words in six days felt like an overwhelming task.  How could I tackle it?

First, I used good old arithmetic.  Twelve chapters — so if I add a couple of thousand new words to each chapter, that might be a start. Then, I ran back through some ideas that I’d passed over or couldn’t find the right place for them.  I assessed the book, which is a first person narrative that spans three days. Where in that three days is there room for about 6,000 new words – a whole new chapter?  I found it.

Then I began reading from chapter 1 and started finding holes.  Of course, they needed to be filled.

As I went back through the book and added, I found areas of untapped riches.  As my character dealt with a looming deadline and loss, it became clear that because she experienced intense inner turmoil , she should  have a crisis of faith.   Great grist for the mill!

As I raced to meet the submission deadline, I discovered that I could be creative yet incisive on demand.  I’d known that I could do it in a business setting.  It was exciting to find out I could do it in fiction writing.  When I finally submitted my book on Sunday night, I had a far richer book than the one I started with.

When I first stared at a twenty-three thousand word increase, I was scared.  But, instead of allowing the fear to make me give up, I focused on it as a problem and attacked it systematically.  Starting simple.  Starting with what I already had.

What helped me the most was that I recognized and named the fear.  Because I wanted to make my dream of becoming published come true, I then attacked the problem instead of allowing the fear to take over.

My goal plus setting myself a complex problem allowed me to be creative in the face of fear.


From → Creative @ Work

  1. What an amazing feat! Great job Deb! I can’t wait to read your novel now that you’ve beefed it up on demand. I can only hope that I will tackle a problem like you did when the time comes. I’m so glad you had that deep well of creativity to dip into when the fire was hot. Hugs! T

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