Take the Pressure Off :: Writer Wednesday with Tosca Lee

And now, a note on fear. This summer I had a writing question from an aspiring author struggling with a long-term project. Here’s what I had to say:

Let me tell you, I have unfinished, or unperfected manuscripts in my cabinet, too. It sounds like a lot of what might be plaguing you is perfectionism. And perfectionism really boils down to fear. Fear of not doing the work well enough so that it lives up to your vision of what it could or should be. But here’s the truth: no work that you ever write will fully and beautifully live up to the perfection vision of it before you get into the mucky mess of writing it. And no work will ever turn out exactly as you thought it would. It’s like raising kids.

Telling stories can feel like a massive burden (I have felt that). But it can and should be fun. Take the pressure off. You are building a roller coaster of a story for someone to yell “woohoo!” on—and you get to ride it first. Unlike a roller coaster, however, if it’s not perfectly constructed, no one will die. 🙂 You can fix, patch and rewire it at will until the day that you sell and let it go (and even then it can be hard to stop picking at something). Even then, it won’t be perfect or necessarily feel finished (mine never do). They’re just snapshots in time.

Consider this: YOU are created in the image of the most creative Being in the universe. A Being who created spiritual mankind… and then a bunch of weird little creatures like those that live at the bottom of the ocean and never see the filtered light of day. What purpose do they serve? Possibly none. Maybe God just liked making them. 🙂

You have my permission to take the pressure off of yourself. Go back to my #1 writing rule: write like no one will ever read this. Write it like secret stuff in your closet. Doing so removes not only the pressure, but the ego (which is intensely interested in protecting itself) and the fear.

And write some other stuff, too. Write some fun stuff. Silly stuff. Just because you can.

At the end of the day, people read for lots of different reasons, but most of it the time it comes down to two: entertainment/escape, and to not feel alone. So write for fun, and write honest and raw, so that others can say “yes, me too.”

To win a copy of The Progeny leave a blog post comment below–what’s the fear that keeps you from writing or creating? Giveaway ends June 13, 2017.

Meet the Author

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign).

 A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband. You can find Tosca hanging around the snack table or wherever bacon is served.
Tosca’s highly-anticipated thriller, The Progeny (Simon & Schuster) is available now along with its sequel, Firstborn.
Emily Jacobs is the descendant of a serial killer. Now, she’s become the hunted.

She’s on a quest that will take her to the secret underground of Europe and the inner circles of three ancient orders—one determined to kill her, one devoted to keeping her alive, and one she must ultimately save.

Filled with adrenaline, romance, and reversals, The Progeny is the present-day saga of a 400-year-old war between the uncanny descendants of “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific female serial killer of all time, and a secret society dedicated to erasing every one of her descendants. It is a story about the search for self filled with centuries-old intrigues against the backdrop of atrocity and hope.

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7 comments on “Take the Pressure Off :: Writer Wednesday with Tosca Lee
  1. Don Bolding says:

    One of the most liberating bits of advice I’ve ever seen about writing or the creative arts or life in general, and I’m at a point in life where liberation is golden. THANK YOU!

  2. Mark Hudson says:

    This was excellent advice for where I’m at right now. i think that you keyed on some good ideas, perfection(you sort of aluded to the idea
    that God is the only perfect entity that exists, and no person he has
    ever created is perfect(and even the greatest writers of all time were
    mortal, therefore limited) and you stated that writing can be spiritual! But above all, to keep the pressure off, always remember,
    writing is supposed to be fun! If someone did not enjoy creating,
    it would be torture to them, therefore apples and oranges, chocolate and vanilla, in other words, to each their own. Thank you!

  3. Your advice came at a perfect time for me. Thanks!

  4. Tosca says:

    Thank you Don, Mark and Jackie!

  5. Tina Yeager says:

    On my best days, I flourish with artistic abandon and enjoy the opportunity to paint a story. Doubt haunts the boundaries of my mind, however, and sometimes creeps in through an unlocked window. I wonder if nothing I do matters. What if I’ve squandered resources and am doomed to face the ultimate regret at end of my own story–nothing to show for my life? I’ve often encouraged other Christians to eliminate the “F” word (failure) from their self-talk. Because I’m intimately acquainted with its barbs. Fear of failure squelches creative dreams. To remind myself, I bought a large, wooden “F” last week and painted silver letters to secure a new definition onto the initial. On the wall beside my desk, “F” will hereafter stand for “FAITH.”

  6. Kelly Kromi says:

    Hi Tosca, thanks for posting this. My number one fear that keeps me from writing is that I’ll never be good enough so why even try? I let that fear paralyze me too much. But it helps to know that your stories are never finished, and it truly helps to be reminded that I’m “created in the image of the most creative Being in the universe.” I’m going to try your #1 writing rule, too. Thanks again!

  7. Thanks so much, Tosca! Loved reading this tonight. My biggest fear? Exactly what Kelly wrote above: what if I’m not good enough? Eeek! When that fear grips me, I remember Eric Liddell saying, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” I’ve got to believe that God gave me these stories. Because when I write, I do feel the excitement of writing WITH God and I feel His pleasure 🙂

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