Scared of Failing

Mr. Brookline from the pending story…

Atychiphobia. Fear of failing.

I have a habit of judging my writing. Now don’t scold me about killing the “Inner Editor!” (Until you’ve heard me out, at least :D) But it’s true. I look at my writing, and I usually tend to get a feel for it. And sometimes, it comes up “Dead.” What do I mean by “Dead?” Read this post, it’ll give you some insight.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been plotting my new book.

It’s set in the State of Providence, which is basically part of Canada seceded from the country in the year 2199. And it’s been going pretty well…I’ve got my 2 main characters outlined, as well as the 50 Warrens (like cities/municipalities) and their Administrations, Ministries, and Agreements etc. I’ve written down the historical data on the signing of the Manifesto (Constitution), and the particulars of expiration, renewal, etc. So what’s missing?

A story.

That’s right, bloggy buddies. I’m missing a story.

Challie Skull (no seriously, that's her name!!!!) from the pending story…

So now comes the big pondersome decision: Do I need a story?

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, WHAT?!” Yah, you heard me. Do I need a story? (Why did I just repeat myself if I knew you heard me…) If I don’t have a story, it would just be a long, meandering piece questioning and thinking about life in general.

Maybe I should redefine myself. When I say story, I mean an actual PLOT—a goal, conflict, an antagonist, a mission. Something that I clearly define. I usually do well with outlines, or so I’d like to think, and this new story would be almost entirely writing on the fly, doing whatever pops into my mind. Now it wouldn’t be completley devoid of story, mind you. There would be action…the characters would definitely go on a trip, or travel, or something to keep it moving. There just would be no set, defined conflict.

But I’m scared of failing.

I know that’s a pitiful excuse.

Now it’s up to you, dear readers…

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24 thoughts on “Scared of Failing

  1. No plot = no story. Sorry Seph! You know, I’m sure there’s a story buried in those notes somewhere. You have your characters, you have your world, now… how do you break it? How do you get into trouble in Providence? What’s the worst that could happen to your MC’s… and why hasn’t it happened? ~hugs~ Hope that helps a bit. You’ll find it, I’m sure.

    • First of all, wow on how fast you commented after I published that post!!!! 😮

      What’s the worst that could happen…I like that…Some great advice here TS!!! Thanks. The Blogosphere is such a blessing for us writers…

      • It sure is a blessing. Writing is such a lonely kind of thing and I think I’d go nuts without it 🙂 Oh and eh… I just happened to be posting on my blog when this popped up in my feed reader. Glad the advice was helpful.

      • BTW: I was googling atychiphobia, and it came up that “performance anxiety” was a synonym of fear of failure! 😀 Subconscious plagiarizing reigns supreme in the blogosphere I guess. 🙂

  2. Yeah, I agree, you need a plot. But what’s to say that plot won’t unravel itself as you write? I’m so into plotting and outlining that I’ve been working for years on one book and have only actually written 4 chapters (but I’ve been having kids in the meanwhile too – so that’s slowed me way down! haha.) I do, however, have another novel kinda in the works and it sounds like it may be leading me to a place similar to where you are: great ideas and characters, but not a lot of plot yet. I may try just going for it and THEN plotting once the story has come alive for me.

    Well, don’t know if that is helpful, really, but it’s some camaraderie at least. 😀 Good luck. I like your drawings.

    • 😀 Thanks! Good to hear. That’s kind of the way I’ve been expecting it to happen, I’ve just been scared of failing before I actually get to the part where plot shows itself.

      And I appreciate comments in general. Helpful or not. So posting one is kinda win-win. 😀 (But your comment was good to read, don’t worry!)

      • Oh I see, of course! You’re not just wondering if it’s an okay idea, you’re wondering if it’s possible you’ll succeed. I get that. You’ll succeed at something at least if you just go full-steam ahead, right? Succeed at trying? Or better yet, succeed at surprising yourself. 😀 I’m overly optimistic, perhaps, but this idea excites me. Then again, I’m currently bogged down so even discussing another’s new venture makes me feel renewed.

        And as for not helpful comments, I’m beginning to see, for myself, that any positive comment can be helpful – just because it’s there… and it’s nice! haha Aren’t we humans easy to please?

        Take care-

      • Genevieve, thank you so much for your kind words!!! Although you and Tessa have made the poll an even split both ways…hmmmm…I’m thinking of just going for it.

        Hearing that you are excited about it makes it all the more exciting a prospect. 😀

        I’m kind of inclined to just do it…DIE writing fears, DIE!!!!

  3. I’m a fly by the seat of the pants type of writer. But a plot is a good thing to have. At least some sort of vague, ambiguous idea… 😉

    P.S. Failure is not a fail…it is an opportunity to learn and grow.

    • That’s the thing, I have a very vague idea of where I’m going. It’s just that I’m missing the outlined structure of the thing.

      Yes, I haven’t epic failed yet. 🙂

  4. I never have a plot in mind when I write a story. I create my world much as you have done, and then fling things at my hapless characters until something interesting happens. Inevitably, a plot forms. ^^

    You’ll have a horrible mess of a first draft, but the results are usually fun and exciting!

    • Good to hear! Hey, the great thing about a horrible mess is that there is a lot of stuff to go through…better to have a bunch of junk than a handful of lint. 🙂

  5. I think the other commenters have given you the advice you were looking for, so I just wanted to say, “good luck.” (Whether you find your plot before you start or after you start writing the story.)

  6. Lolwut?

    No. Seriously. Lolwut?

    Anyway… is it possible in the age of post-modernism to have a novel without a plot? Perhaps. Is it adviseable? Adviseably not. Either way, it sounds like you’re on the way, now.

      • Mostly I was just amused by the inclusion of “Lolwut?” as a survey option. 😛

        Otherwise, I would’ve checked the option for Plot. Plotless novels, like I said, can be done… there’s a certain most-modern deconstructivism involved in the idea of pursuing a plotless novel. But as a general rule, I can’t see how a plotless novel would be an interesting or worthwhile read, at least not for me.

        Experimentally, if it’s something you want to try and see where it goes, I say yeah, sure go for it. The worst that can happen is you have a possibly unreadable work but that you’ve learned some valuable lessons about writing. Possibly, the plot evolves organically (unless you’re actively trying to dodge plot) and you have a masterpiece instead.

        If, however, you want something people will want to read or will enjoy reading, I’d say: think long and hard about your characters, about what they want and need. Somewhere, between all those characters, you have a conflict – where what one character wants conflicts with what another character wants such that both cannot easily achieve their desires at the same time. (In math/statistics, we call that “mutually exclusive”.) That is the basis of plot; fundamentally that’s where a plot starts, and reconciling those differences is how you pursue a plot. You don’t need it planned out ahead of time what’s going to happen, you just have to have characters who, at the outset, want fundamentally different things, and you have to bring those characters into collision.

        So… you can have a Dark Lord who wants to rule the world and a Simple Peasant Farmer who just wants to live a normal, peaceful life without evil creatures rampaging his hometown. How do you resolve the differences? After the Dark Lord’s world-conquering evil creatures ravage Simple Peasant Farmer’s hometown, the latter vows to defeat Dark Lord so that no one has to deal with evil creatures rampaging through their towns again.

        Or you can have this guy Ordinary Joe who’s hopelessly in love with Princess Untouchable. Of course, Princess Untouchable is more interested in finding Johnny Perfect Man, which Ordinary Joe is not. The conflict resolves when Ordinary Joe sets out to impress Princess Untouchable by showing that he has qualities and traits that are superior to the imaginary Johnny Perfect Man’s, and either Princess Untouchable adjusts and changes her wants, and they fall in love, or she doesn’t, and they don’t (i.e. Romantic Comedy versus Romantic Tragedy).

        Or, you know… whatever. I’m sure you’ve got at least two or three characters with opposing interests…

      • [Note: you can switch Ordinary Joe and Princess Untouchable above (i.e. Ordinary Jill and Prince Quarterback Rico Suave Untouchable) and the Romance plots remain intact.]

      • How amusing to come home and find that someone left a novel as a comment. 😀 Love it!

        Trust me, I am not trying to actively dodge a plot. In fact, as of late I have one that’s starting to develop. Looks like it could get interesting here. But it will be less of an epic plot, and more of a character-driven store. Epic plots are nice, but life is not made of epic plots. (Unless you leave your touristy guidebook in on a taxi counter. Then, definitely, volcanoes, orcs, or not, there will be some epicness.)

        Opposing interests also look like they may develop here.

        So far, my story is in good shape. Nothing that a rewrite won’t be able to perfect, of course. But at 5,000 words, and going, it looks like it just may be a good run of it. (Optimistically speaking.)

  7. Yeah. I would say you need a story, otherwise it’ll just be a non-fiction book without a story.

    Are you sure there is no story? Maybe you should focus on the most exciting element of your research, maybe a specific character that intrigues your or issues that you find fascinating.

    I’m not sure you should give up. If this excited you enough to look into it and go into the characters, there has to be a story in there somewhere.

    I say, dust yourself off and try again. 🙂

    Sweet new design btw! Suits you.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments Ollin! I definitely have not given up on it. As mentioned in the above comment, I’m at 5k words and still going…haven’t lost steam. It looks like a story may take shape here.

      And I like to change the design every two or three months or so. 😀

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