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Sprinting with the Muse--without Tripping Over Your Own Self Doubt in the Process

Less than a month ago, I received an offer for a project so intriguing, I decided to ignore the fact that my brain was foaming at the mouth and raving that it was impossible to get it done by the insanely-short deadline. But, hey, I'm a writer. Ignoring reality comes easily to me.

Ignoring fear and self-imposed limitations, on the other hand, is quite another story.

I've written or contracted for a couple dozen books, which might make me seem prolific by most writers' standards. But the truth is, my daily output is quite low, usually less than a thousand words, and a spend a lot of time endlessly putzing with and rewriting even those. I'm steady about it, though, usually writing six days a week, sometimes seven, so somehow I plod along to meet my deadlines.

This time, however, there could be no plodding. There could only be a full-bore frontal assault, and there was also zero (and I mean zero) time for self-doubt. I had no time to listen to resistance hissing in my ear that a good story couldn't come that quickly, that the resulting efforts would be so messed up, a skilled team of editors couldn't possibly save it. I had no time to call myself a hack or second guess the snap decision I'd made. I could only act on it, and by act I'm talking butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard, and writing, writing, writing rather than telling myself that Facebook and its evil time-stealing games are a valid way to relax until the muse showed up.

Without the luxury of waiting around for the fickle bi-atch to put in an appearance, I forced her to catch up to me instead. And wouldn't you know she came running to do just that. I found that the faster I wrote, the more confident and assured my writing became, the story building on itself more quickly and fluidly than any of the books I've wept and struggled and slaved over for far longer.

The end result was over 36,000 words written in just under three weeks, the final 12K written in a white-hot two-day marathon which was possibly the finest, most pleasurable writing-in-flow experience of my life. You know, that writer's high you get when the rest of the world vanishes, time stops in its tracks, and there's only the story that's spilling like an ink pot through your brain and dripping straight down through your fingertips?

Better yet, I loved every word of that story and feel one hundred percent confident the readers, too, are going to love it. (Apparently, my mental voices of doom and second guessing haven't yet caught up with the muse and I on this trip. They will, I'm sure, but until then, I'm enjoying their rare silence.)

Though I can't yet talk about this "secret" project, you can be sure I will be at a later date. Until then, I'll be thinking--and I hope you will as well--about all we can accomplish when we stop beating ourselves up...and the simple joy of running in a wild sprint alongside of our muses.

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Suzan Harden said…
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