Fear of the First Chapter – ridiculous but real.

I’m moving on and totally forgetting about the fact that I have queries and my first chapter out in cyberspace. 

I have to.

It’s just plain old unhealthy to obsess about a letter…and what it means. The staggering weight of my future career all tied up in a few measly 250 words.

So, I’m focusing on my next project. I’m excited. I’m spreading my writing wings, ready to apply all I’ve learned to my next story. Because this could be the one. Except for the one already out there, but I’m not thinking about that one.

I’m spending extra time planning, plotting, creating, masterminding evil deeds and villains. Except…

I have a little fear of starting the first draft of the first chapter because I’ve been so used to revising and rewriting a more polished manuscript that I’m not used to reading over first draft suckage.

So, I did a curious thing last night. I was tired from being out all day. My creative juices were running low. I wanted to sleep, but it was too early for bed. I’d already checked my email 100 times. Really, I wasn’t thinking about it – you know, the letter.

So, I decided to rewrite a first chapter of an old story in the pov of my new exciting project. I wanted to practice. I needed to practice a multiple third person distant pov because I’ve never done it. So, it would be okay for it to be suckage because I’m just practicing.

Today. I decided to conquer the world, or at least my first chapter. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s a start. I love this new pov I’m trying,  like its a new pair of skinny jeans. (So hard to find, but once you do, you want to wear them every day.) So go out and conquer your fears today!

Does anyone else feel that first chapter hesitation at the start of a project?

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19 Responses to Fear of the First Chapter – ridiculous but real.

  1. The Alliterative Allomorph March 31, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    LOL I can so relate to you.

    I’ve sent out a bunch of queries too and I keep checking my email like a maniac.

    The way I get over the first chapter fear is by writing a random scene and then putting it in the book wherever I feel it fits later on.

    Sometimes I don’t use it, or change it drastically, but it helps me because it’s usually a scene in an average every day situation to get to know the character on a personal and plain level.

  2. Jennifer Shirk March 31, 2010 at 11:23 am #

    well, I don’t hesitate starting it–in fact I get quite excited to do it. But the first chapter is the one I will obsess about the most. 🙂
    Good for you for trying another POV!

  3. Laura March 31, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    AA – Great idea!

    Jennifer – Yes, I agree. Starting something new is very exciting. I just want to get started on the right foot so to speak. 🙂

  4. Tina Lee March 31, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    I fear it! Once I do something I’m committed. So starting is the hardest part. Practicing for the sake of practicing I have to get better at. Good work, Laura!

  5. Laura March 31, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    Thanks Tina – Glad to know I’m not alone!

  6. Jody Hedlund March 31, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    I definitely feel the first chapter jitters at the start of every novel. It’s that feeling that you have to get it just right because you know how important the first page is. But ultimately, I end up changing it at some point anyway. So I know I shouldn’t put so much effort into it the first time around!

  7. Laura March 31, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    Jody – Yes, I rewrite my first couple chapters a lot, especially after I finish the first draft. But, I like to be happy with the tone and voice. Because I don’t want to write a manuscript in 3rd person when it should be in 1st. I’ve done that before.

  8. Anna March 31, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    I go through this every time I start something new. It’s a huge shift to go from revising and polishing a manuscript to working on a first draft again. It feels like you’re going back to square one. I have to say a little mantra to myself as I’m working on that draft: “You’re allowed to write crap.” 🙂

    Good luck with the new project and with the queries!

  9. Hilary Wagner March 31, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    I’m not afraid of the 1st chapter. For me the 2nd chapter is the kicker! Where will the story go??

    Great luck!!! You CAN do it!

    xoxo — Hilary

  10. Laura March 31, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Yes Anna – That is what I’m trying to allow myself to do! Write crap. Write crap. It’s okay. It’s okay.

    Hilary -Thanks for the encouragement!

  11. Karen Strong March 31, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    Starting a new project is always scary especially when you’ve been working on another project for awhile.

    But it’s also EXCITING!

    Which is what you are doing. Think of it as a new adventure. Just write and know that you can/will go back and make it better. Sometimes you just have to get it on paper first to find the shape.

    I know you will do fine.

    Best of luck to you on your new project.

  12. Laura March 31, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    Thanks Karen. I am excited. Now with two chapters down, I feel better. But I know it’s going to need a lot of work. But for now I’m just going to enjoy the process of fresh writing, which I love just as much as revision. 🙂

  13. Nelsa March 31, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    Oh, yes. I can totally relate. I end up writing that first chapter over and over again (even as I’m trying to plow through the rest of the wip) because I keep discovering things about my characters that impact the way that first chapter reads. Sometimes, like with my current wip, I chuck the first chapter altogether and write up a brand new one. Frustrating but, sometimes, ultimately necessary.

    Good luck with your new project and with the one that you’re totally not thinking about! 🙂

  14. MG Higgins March 31, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    Yes! And I tend to rework my first paragraph over and over before I can continue with my first draft suckage. (I love that phrase!) Have fun with your first draft. I envy you.

  15. Laura March 31, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    Nelsa – I end up writing my first chapter many times over!

    MG – I will rework my first chapter, or come back to it, because those opening chapters are so important for the rest of the story to make sense. But after a certain point, I let it rest until I’m done with the first draft.

  16. PJ Hoover March 31, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Sometimes it takes me a while to remember I can actually write that first draft.
    Good luck!

  17. Dawn Simon April 1, 2010 at 3:09 am #

    Yes, but I think you have to dive right into a new project, just as you’re doing. I have theories on that (I have theories on a lot of things-hee!). It’s challenging going from a polished manuscript to something totally new, but now you can apply all you’ve already learned to that new book. Embrace the suckage. You have to start somewhere. And good luck with the querying! 🙂

  18. Laura April 1, 2010 at 3:48 am #

    Thanks Dawn and PJ for the encouragement. A chapter a day keeps the suckage away. I’m glad I dove in and started writing. There is just something so exhilarating about writing a first draft.

  19. Terry Lynn Johnson April 1, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    Yes, I do this too! I procrastinate for a long time until I finally get started.

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