The Scariest Part

In case you missed it, I announced Wednesday that I’d sold two new books to Delacorte. (Yay!)

The announcement came complete with pie charts.  I really love charts. They can express all kinds of ideas. Brilliant things. The world is a better place with graphs, charts and grids, and I’ll tell you why: It keeps my right brain self and left brain self from killing each other.

It’s not this simple, but it makes a pretty picture.

Every test I’ve ever taken (Which is a lot, because you know who gets to be early test subjects for graduate students in communication and behavioral science? Other grad students in communication and behavioral science.) puts me in a dead split between right/left brain dominance.

According to popular theory (two words that pretty much negate all credibility), I can use both types of intelligence–logical and intuitive–equally well.  But what it mostly seems to mean is that someday they will find my comatose body in a department store dressing room because my brain has imploded trying to decide whether to purchase a dress that I love vs. the one that is practical.

So I make pro/con lists for just about everything. (And I do mean everything.) I keep notebooks with my ideas. I write down everything so I can sort it and find it when I need it.

This is where the white board comes in. When I rough in my book plot, my beloved white board chart gives me a visual, spacial framework that I can then fill in with my right-brained creative genius.

Except here I am. Staring at this:

In blank space, no one can hear you scream.


Most intimidating thing ever.

Here’s what I don’t get.  I’ve written seven books.  My left brain KNOWS I can write a book. I have empirical evidence of the fact that I can write a book. And they’re not even BAD books. They’ve gotten starred reviews and awards and stuff.

So how come every time I sit down to “Chapter One” and a blank page, I’m convinced I have no CLUE what I’m doing.  I’ve just been faking it all this time.

Call it the inner editor, call it the Id vs the Superego, call it cognitive dissonance, call it whatever…. Staring at a blank anything can make a task seem so overwhelming that just about anyone can get this kind of standing-on-the-high-dive paralysis that threatens to defeat you before you even get started.

The only thing to do–and trust me, I know–is to start filling in the blanks. Make a chart. Make a list. Make a mind map. Make a Pinterest Board full of inspiring images. Start filling in the empty spaces with nonsense, and sooner or later, it’s not so empty and intimidating any more.

“Make it so.” — Captain Jean Luc Picard