(previously published in the fall 2008 edition of Once Upon a Time Magazine)
Your hero just overcame the latest obstacle in your story. She smiles, thinking she is safely in the clear until BAM! You throw her an unexpected twist.
Sometimes the ups and downs of writing are just like the triumphs and pitfalls our heroes go through. Once day, we’re dancing around the house with a glorious acceptance letter, Other days, we’re wallowing in response to your fourth rejection in two weeks.
“What ever possessed you to write THAT,” asks an annoying voice in your head.
That’s the voice I’ve come to call The Writing Enemy. You don’t see it, but you know it’s there. Some days it jumps out at you right away. Other days it lurks around, waiting for the perfect moment. Then the thoughts come:
“That’s a crazy idea!”
“No one would be interested in that,”
“This is a terrible story.”
The Writing Enemy is like the villain your story’s hero must overcome. All the obstacles it creates are designed for one thing: to assure you won’t finish that story or article.
It hovers over your keyboard, causing your fingers to freeze up. It takes over your concentration and distracts you with things such as e-mail and phone calls.
On a particularly bad day, it haunts you with it’s secret weapon–guilt, You stare at the accumulated pile of dishes and think, I should take care of that. My breakthrough story idea can wait. You forget that you have time for these things after work, just like the rest of the world.
How can you defeat such a devastating beast? Determination! Despite coming down with the case of the “Frozen Fingers,” you persevere. You start by typing a few words, then a few more, until you have your first rough draft. You ignore the e-mails and turn off the phone.
When you feel guilty about other things, that need to be done, you remind yourself that you have set hours for work. Home can have the rest. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to revise and revise again until the time has come. It is the day you drop your manuscript in the mailbox.
Just like your story’s hero, you smile to yourself. Yes, you were thrown some tough obstacles, but like your hero, you sough a creative way out. Go ahead and celebrate. The Writing Enemy is defeated once again.