52 books in 52 weeks: Stop Worrying, Start Writing

A brief interlude from NaNoWriMo …

I set myself the goal of reading and reviewing 52 writing guides over the year. Here is book 28.

Stop Worrying; Start Writing: How to Overcome Fear, Self-Doubt and Procrastination by Sarah Painter is one of those that does exactly what it says on the cover.

It’s not a how-to-write book, there are no exercises. It’s a self-help book for authors who worry. A lot. As does the author. And the author does, in fact, suffer from anxiety and I hope she won’t take my 4-star review too personally.

Saying that, she won’t read it anyway as she gets her husband to screen reviews for her. He only tells her about the good ones, though. So I hope he does at least mention this one.

I like how-to-write writers’ guides, so I like to see lots of practical exercises that build on whatever the reader has learned in each chapter. There are no such exercises in this book, but there are lots of tips and suggestions on how to avoid anxiety when writing.

There are also several “aha!” moments, when you see it’s not just you who suffers from such lack of confidence, and that’s nice to see. Such as when you start a piece of writing, get two-thirds of the way through, and then the crows of doubt* flap in and the project is packed away in a drawer or a file, never to be seen or heard from again.

This is where the author’s suggestions come in handy, where you pick yourself up, give yourself a good talking to, and then write your way out of the corner you’ve ended up in. The book is packed full with things like that. The author suggests setting goals and spreading these targets out over your writing time. And she suggests making writing fun again, taking away the angst and worry of people seeing it and hating it, and trick yourself into believing only you will see it.

It’s very much written from the author’s viewpoint, how she feels, what works for her and when, and she does share quite a lot of her own experiences. But as most writers will recognise some or all of the symptoms of their own, it really is a help in that respect.

Stop Worrying; Start Writing is available on Kindle for £2.99 ($3.94) and in paperback for £5.99 ($7.99).

I’m sorry this one’s short and sweet, but I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo …

*I nicked this expression from my good friend Kate Hardy.