Whenever I finish a story, I like to take a little break, so I can recharge my brain, and rejuvenate the muse. Yet I hate to be away too long, because then I worry that I won't remember how to write.
(That bike-riding analogy doesn't really work, since the last time I tried to ride a bike, as an adult, after transporting myself everywhere on the two-wheeled version of freedom as a child -- well, let's just say I managed to jump off before we both went sailing down a hill.)
The longer I stay away from writing, the easier it is to think I've completely forgotten how to put words together into sentences, and sentences into stories. Which is why I come up with some damn fine excuses for not writing. It's amazing how creative I can be when I'm worried I've lost all ability to create.
Starting a new story has its own set of anxieties. Will I like these characters? What if they're not as awesome as the last story I worked on? Will they like me, or will they run away whenever I try to tell their story? It's like the first day in a new school, checking out everyone else who seems to know each other, and you feel like the interloper.
The writer is always going to be the outsider, looking inward, in order to dredge up a story and characters that have not been formed yet, and worrying that it's the same tale that's been told before, and more exquisitely, by somebody else.
Yet when I finally drag myself to the laptop and force myself to sit and type, it's always a flat-out miracle how comfortable it all feels. Why did I stay away so long? It's like I'm meeting up with long-lost friends, and we can't stop chattering to each other.
Fear is a writer's constant uninvited companion. We treat it with healthy respect, because we know what it can do if it's allowed free rein. Still, the best way to harness that fear is to sit down amongst our new characters and become friends with them, leaving the doubt and anxiety on the outside of this cozy circle.
The fear never disappears, and we don't need to let loose of it entirely, but we ought to make it work within our parameters.
One new word at a time.