By Milli Thornton
Sometimes, even when I’m completely eager to work on my current story, I have fear of starting a new writing session. There’s that fear I won’t know where to go next with my story. Or only slightly less intimidating (if I have an outline to work with), that I won’t know how to get the characters to live up to what’s in my head.
As they might say in New Age self-help books, it’s really all an illusion. It’s not “me” who has to write the story. That’s just what my ego thinks. My imagination came up with the story in the first place; I’m just hijacking it with my petty anxieties.
But understanding that the fear is an illusion doesn’t help one bit. (It sure doesn’t feel like an illusion.) What helps is a trick I stumbled on one day when I decided to talk out my anxieties. Something told me it needed to be spoken out loud, so I turned on my dictation program and started telling it about my block.
First I described the most recent happenings in my story. And then I described what I felt my big dilemma was. Before I could even wring all the drama out of my dilemma, I had a breakthrough. Next thing I was rushing to open my screenwriting software so I could write the next scene.
I decided this therapy was a keeper. But instead of systemizing it (as I love to do with various things in life), I decided to keep it basic. My story therapist is undoubtedly my muse—which is either an immortal goddess in a bower somewhere or simply my own imagination—but I never get that personal or analytical about the process. I treat my therapist like a nameless, faceless entity; one to which I owe nothing but a quick thanks as I leap off the couch to use the material that just came flowing in.
I actually think my therapist prefers it this way. No etiquette, no assertiveness homework or gratitude journals, no case files.
And the talk therapy works every time. You can’t beat that for value.
Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli also blogs at Milliver’s Travels and Screenwriting in the Boonies.