Ultimately I think that's what it comes down to.
Sometimes it's a simple fact of me being busy at the time, or maybe I'm between projects. That's not when it happens. It's not until I actually have a project in front of me that this fear springs forth.
I don't believe in writer's block. All that means is that you haven't planned enough. I firmly believe in procrastination. No, it's not a good thing; it's the worst thing. But it definitely exists. It's not enough to realise that you procrastinate. If you want to stop doing it so much, you have to find the reason behind it and attack that.
For me, the reason behind it is fear, at least in some form.
THE BLANK PAGEWhat isn't scary about a blank page? It's like Microsoft Word's depiction of an atheist's death: nothingness; blank space; no thought or existence.
FEAR OF WRITINGWhen I finally get past the blank page and start throwing down words, certain scenes can give me pause. Why? They're never what I imagined. When I have scene ideas, I see a movie in my mind's eye, or maybe three-second Snapchat videos. Translating film to novel doesn't work the way I'd like. I'd love to write a scene and for that movie in my mind to start playing in my reader's mind. But it doesn't work like that, and when I write it, it actually comes out better than I could imagine -- but different. Because of that, I can never know how it'll turn out. Like people are afraid of the uncertainty of death, I, on a basic level, am afraid that what I write may not be up to the standards of my imagination.
FEAR OF EDITINGI've only run into this more recently as I've begun editing Three Bridges. Can I really make it better? Really? Do I actually have the required skills to implement my editor's suggestions? Am I up to the challenge, the great undertaking that would lift my book to greater heights? What if I destroy the book I've worked so hard for? What if the time I spend editing could have been spent writing a new book, and what if the editing makes no difference to how the book fares in the real world?
It's all fear of the great unknown.
While fear still hinders my progress, I've learnt to take steps to make the challenges of writing a novel less daunting.
PLANNINGPlanning three different phases of the novel-writing process is what's helped me the most.
While writing Aundes Aura, I only ever planned three to five chapters ahead, with a basic overview in my mind. It took me three years to write the first draft. Three Bridges had a chapter-by-chapter plan from start to finish. It took me a year and a month to write the first draft. I had a better idea of what was coming, and so was able to approach it more aggressively without fear of the unknown.
The Blank Page:
Through pre-writing, I was able to get a sense of the scene without getting bogged down in details and trying to make the writing sound good. I write the basics of what's going to happen in the scene. Often I put down in quotes any sentences I might like to include, or dialogue ideas.
Because my editor covered lots of different aspects of my novel, I found it daunting. To divide it into achievable chunks, I pulled out the points that needed addressing and separated them into "big-picture" and "small-picture" edits. Now my only focus is on the big-picture edits, starting with the most difficult task -- adding new chapters. I'll keep chipping at the dot-points until the big-picture edits are done, and then I can work on the small-picture things: description, emotion and character voice.