Sunday, January 19, 2014

See You Later, Alligator

There are days when writing feels like tiptoeing past alligators lying in wait, eyes aglow, watching as I struggle to keep my balance on the slippery stones leading across the swamp.

No matter when I start writing, the alligators are always there waiting for me to fall. They are my fears, anxieties, and doubts waiting to ambush me.

The moment I set foot in the water, the alligators are ready to pounce and wrestle away my desire to put words on paper. The mere sight of them fills me with dread, and I fear they will drag me under and drown my love of words and stories.

But one of the things I’ve learned about writing is that, even though alligators are lying in wait, I still have to get into the water.

No matter how frightening they may appear, I have to stare down their hungry eyes, confront their rows of sharp teeth, and dive past them into the story that I need to tell.

These alligators are the gatekeepers. Before I can write, they want proof that I have the courage to tell a story. They require evidence that I need to tell this story. (How badly do I need to tell it? Badly enough to wrestle alligators?)

And here’s the other thing that I’ve learned about alligators lying in wait for me.

The moment that I jump into the water and begin writing, the alligators—each and every one of them—disappear like ghosts scattering at the first hint of dawn.

They are nothing more than illusions trying to keep me from writing.

The simplest movement of my pen, the slightest sound of my keyboard, sends ripples across the page scattering away my fears, anxieties, and doubts.

It happens every time.

It’s part of the magic of writing.

If you want to write but are afraid of alligators lurking beneath the surface, pick up your pen and begin anyway.

Then watch your fears and doubts scurry away in the time it takes you to say: “See you later, alligator.”

For more on getting past the fear of writing, take a look at:


Pat McDermott said...

Entertaining and practical post, Bruce. I especially enjoyed it because last night, my husband and I watched Bogart's The African Queen. Crocodiles slithered into the water all through the movie. But Bogie and Kate Hepburn kept going and at last succeeded in their quest. Great writing analogy!4388231

Bruce Black said...

Thanks, Pat. Bogie and Hepburn are great inspirations, aren't they? Love that movie!

Cynthia Reeg said...

Thanks for the encouragement!
No alligators in the fantasy water I'm revising now--but certainly a dragon or two :)

Bruce Black said...

Cynthia, glad to hear you don't have to worry about gators, but dragons, ooh boy, they sound intimidating. I hope you can find your way past them!

aquafortis said...

I love this. I'll have to check out those other posts, too. Fighting fear is, evidently, a big part of my artmaking process. Thanks, Bruce! Also, I'm about to give your book a quick plug over on Finding Wonderland. :)

Bruce Black said...

Glad to know the post might help you swim past those gators. Don't let them stop you! And thanks for the plug. I'll keep an eye out for it.