Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Leaving the ground: Climbing past fear to writing success

I'm still bruised from my tussle with this wedge of rock, but the view from the top was pretty awesome.

There’s a lot of climbing in my book. I researched hard and embellished in fictitious ways (because FLASHFALL’s a sci-fi), and not—ultimately—a book about climbing. But we’re in the copyedit stage, honing in on every word, checking for consistency, and that has left me fact-checking my pseudo-science. And also the climbing scenes. So, I did what any normal person would do: hired a climbing instructor at my local climbing gym to teach me All The Things, and then headed off on a five-hour drive to Wisconsin to meet Steve, the climbing guide who would consult on my book and take me climbing and rappelling at Devil’s Lake. Fun, right?

Here’s the thing. I have Fears.

There I was, clambering up a rose quartz crag, shivering with fear and cold. My thoughts were on a loop of: What am I doing? This is crazy! I did it—I’ve got this! Ohmygod I’m so scared I can’t do this!

A week later, I still bear the bruises. And the knowledge that it all comes down to this:

Just. Keep. Going.

It was hard—painful at times—and scary as hell. But whenever I wavered, muscles straining, toes slipping off toeholds, Steve called up, “Just keep going. Don’t overthink it. You’ve got it. Now, go!”

And I did.

So now I have a book to write. Book Two in the FLASHFALL series. I’m wavering a little, struggling to find good handholds at times. How about you? Where are you at in your writing? Are you staring up at a mountain, doubting your abilities, fear making you want to hug the ground? Or are you halfway up the side, shaking with exertion, realizing this is harder than you ever imagined.

Wherever you’re at, I want you to imagine you have trusty Steve, the mountain guide, calling, “Just keep going. Don’t overthink it. You’ve got it. Now, go!” 
Steve, my trusty climbing guide
That is the secret to getting to the top—to getting the book written. Everything else is secondary. It comes down to one page at a time, one word after another. Sometimes they flow, and you’re swept into one of those magical moments as a writer where you’re tapped in to inspiration, all, Yes, this! This is good! Other times you’re weary, hands slipping, with no clear path ahead.

Don’t overthink it. That’s what editing’s for. For now, the victory is in pressing past your doubts and fears, your worries and disappointments. There are good days and bad days in writing. There are successes and setbacks in publishing. Keep going.

This is National Novel Writing Month—the perfect time to lock arms with fellow brave souls and commit to getting the story written. Because if there’s anything better than having a mountain guide shouting encouragement, it’s looking up and realizing you’re not climbing alone. 

View from the top

 For more about NanoWriMo go here: http://nanowrimo.org/

Jenny Moyer is the author of YA sci-fi/fantasy FLASHFALL (Macmillan/Holt, fall 2016) She studied writing at Seattle Pacific University, and currently lives in Iowa with her filmmaker husband and three boys. She's currently at work on the sequel to FLASHFALL.

Where to find Jenny: Website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

Where to find FLASHFALL: Goodreads

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